Services available at: Lister Hospital
Your body already knows how to give birth but labour is a journey that can take a long time. This is NORMAL
Your contractions have become intense and regular
Labour is different for every woman but as a guide you should be experiencing at least 3 contractions in each 10 minute period, lasting approximately 1 minute.
Your ‘waters’ break
This may be with a ‘gush’ or you may feel small trickles of fluid. If you are unsure whether they have broken or not please contact the hospital.
You are not feeling the baby move as much as normal
You should be used to your baby’s pattern of movements, any deviation from this, contact the hospital to arrange a monitoring.
You experience any vaginal bleeding
During the latent phase of labour many women will have a ‘show’ which is where the mucus plug blocking the cervix comes away. This is often mixed with some blood which appears ‘sticky’. If you experience any fresh bleeding however please contact the hospital.
If you come to the hospital and are assessed by your midwife to still be in the latent phase of labour, it is likely they will encourage you to return home.
If you have any concerns or are unsure of whether it is time to come in ALWAYS phone for advice.
This is the period of time where the body is preparing for labour. Before labour starts, the cervix is long and closed and in a posterior position, during the latent phase it becomes soft and thin (called effacement) and gradually moves to an anterior position and begins to dilate.
The latent phase is considered complete when the cervix has effaced completely, has dilated to 4cm and you are contracting regularly. Most women will experience contractions within the latent phase of labour, which may stop and start over a period of many days. This is normal for this period of labour but can become very tiring for you and your birth supporters.
What you can do
The length of the latent phase is individual to every woman, there are some things you can do to try and help to cope with this period and encourage active labour but it is important to remember to rest when you can.
- Go for a walk
- Take a warm bath or shower
- Drink plenty of fluids – water and sports drinks
- Eat little and often – carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice and cereal) for slow-releasing energy, plus sugary food for quick releasing energy.
- Keep your breathing deep and regular – ‘breathe in gently, sigh out slowly’
- Lower back massage – ask your birth supporters to do this for you.
- Using a hot water bottle or wheat bag on any areas that ache – your lower back, tummy (under your bump) or between your thighs. Be careful not to burn yourself.
- Use your birthing ball if you have one.
- You may find it helps to make love – kissing, cuddling and having a orgasm all cause your body to produce oxytocin (the hormone which stimulates contractions)
- Put on your TENS machine if you have one
- Experiment with different positions that you find comfortable, such as standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling and walking around.
- It is ok to take Paracetamol at regular intervals as per the instructions on the packet.
Try to stay calm and relaxed in the early stages of labour
There is evidence to show that the later in labour you come to hospital the more likely you are to have a normal birth