Early labour

We define labour as either latent or active in stages.  You will usually be advised to stay at home until you are in active labour, at which point you will receive 1:1 care from a midwife in the birth environment of your choice. Download our leaflet about the latent phase of labour below.

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The early, or latent stage of labour can vary in length for women, some have a very quick latent phase while for others it can last over 24 hours.  We are not able to predict how long a latent phase is likely to be, in contrast to active labour, but in general it is longer for first time mothers.  There are lots of ways to make yourself more comfortable in the early stages of labour including:

Walk around the houseKeep well hydratedRelaxation techniques
MassageTake a warm bath or showerHave a nap
Use a hot water bottleUse a TENS machineAdopt different positions
Eat little and oftenTake a walkWatch a DVD
Focus on breathing in gently and sighing out slowlyListen to musicKeep the lights low


We will support you in the safest way for you and your baby during your latent phase, either through telephone contact or face to face support as required.