What is happening in the pre-labour or latent phase? Well this is all about your cervix getting soft or “ripening”. Yes it is at this point that your cervix changes from the consistency that is firm and muscular like the end of your nose to wonderfully soft like your ear lobe. At this stage your cervix is ready to stretch so help it along with upright positions and keep your bump forward leaning, a great time to scrub all your skirting boards!
Back to this early stage of labour the bit that for a first timer can s-t-r-e-t-c-h your patience. It is important to pace yourself because time is taken to alter your cervix. Now that your cervix is lovely and “ripe!” Its soft consistency allows the contractions to change it from a 3cm long tube so that it shortens and merges with the lower segment of your uterus. If you have already had a baby this is done in the run up to labour, but with your first baby this is the reason that labour tends to be longer.
When having your first baby this is the stage that can take days sometimes and I am cautioning you to rest as long as possible thus conserving energy for the active stage. A good position may be on your left side with a pillow between your legs and your back leaning against your partner.
Now it is time! Let the dilation begin! By the rhythmical muscle contractions of the uterus the cervix stretches open and once fully stretched open to 10cm the 1st stage of labour has ended!
What can help? Think U F O! Upright, Forward – leaning and Open!
Upright positions – staying mobile and altering your positions help your contractions to work more effectively.
Forward – leaning. Your uterus moves forward as it contracts, so to lean forward makes it work more efficiently.
Open. This means making good space in the pelvis, if you are lying on your side remember to put a couple of pillows between your knees.
Other things that help are to keep snacking frequently, drinking plenty and emptying your bladder.
Remember to inhale energy and slowly exhale to relax and be patient! Here at UK Birth Centre we are all about supporting women’s choice and having contact with your own midwife during this stage brings a lot of comfort.