Early labor

The latent stage is when your body, particularly your uterus and cervix, start preparing to give birth. This means that the cervix softens, thins and dilates to 3-4 cm. Typically, this stage takes the longest and can often last up to 20 hours. Generally, contractions are not intense and painful. They can come at intervals of between 5 and 20 minutes and last between 20 and 45 seconds. The pain is usually felt in the back and down towards the groin. During this stage, you may notice a mucus plug/fibrin clot, which looks like a clot of mucus mixed with blood.

Because the latent stage can be an awfully long process, it’s important to take it easy, save your strength and your energy. There is no point in trying to hurry the process by being up and active. Try to shut out everything going on around you. Be patient and trust that “my body is capable of giving birth”.

One idea is to set various milestones for the latent stage. Just looking to the finish line, when you have given birth, can feel very distant. Example of milestones during the latent stage: • Rest a few hours and enjoy all the micro moments of sleep that you can get. After that, decide how you’re feeling and what next step is best for you. • Don’t forget to eat and drink. • Have a movie on hand that you can watch to pass the time, and to help you relax even if you can’t sleep. • Take a relaxing shower.

You will eventually notice that the contractions are coming more frequently, becoming more intense and the pain is getting stronger. Most probably, you or your partner will now call the birth center/hospital and your midwife will advise you about what to do and take into consideration. • The next milestone could be to go to the birth center/hospital.

Partners can do a lot to help out during the latent stage. Everything from switching into comfortable positions, massage, words of encouragement and serving water and food. Most women are particularly sensitive now and need a lot of support. For you as a partner, remember: “Hang on, Hold close and Hold dear”.

In summary, the latent stage is the phase in which you have the most to gain from taking it easy, gathering your strength, being patient and passing the time.

Sources: - Abascal, G., & Huss, M. S. (2018). Att föda. Bonnier Fakta.