The Early Stage of Labour

The early part of labour is known as the ‘latent phase’, and this can be slow, particularly if you are having your first baby. It may also stop and start again; this is very common as your body prepares itself for the labour ahead, and this preparation may happen over several days. If you are 37 weeks gestation or more here is some advice to help:

  •   Stay at home until your contractions become regular and strong. Talk to your LMC about when to call them.

  •   Sleep while you can to conserve your energy. If you are unable to sleep, stay quiet with the lights dimmed and rest. Be patient, this may progress to labour or stop for a while.

  •   Trust in your body and try not to worry, just ‘go with it’. Accept each stage as it comes. Every labour is different, so don’t compare your progress to others.

  •   Stay active once you can no longer sleep. Try positions where you are upright or leaning forwards. Rest when you need it.

  •   Relax. Try calming music, a walk on the beach, a massage, relaxation techniques, aromatherapy oils that are safe to use during pregnancy, a warm shower or bath. Keeping busy will help to distract you.

  •   Good emotional support is important when you need it.

  •   Laughter helps with endorphin release, the body’s own painkillers. Entertain yourself with a funny movie.

  •   TENS machines can ease the discomfort. Talk to your midwife for more information. A warm pack can also help you to feel more comfortable.

  •   Keep well hydrated and eat regular light snacks.