It seems to me that more women are experiencing a long early or “latent” phase of labour. So, what self-help measures can you use?

Firstly, encourage your baby into his or her optimal (best) position before labour begins (see my previous post for tips!).

Then:

  1. Lessen the sensations of pain: distractions (watch TV, listen to music, go for a walk), warmth (hot water bottle, wheat bag, shower, bath), massage by your birth partner, put on a TENS machine
  2. Fuel your body! Remember to keep well hydrated, eat light meals or snacks, rest/sleep when you can
  3. Have the right mind-set: this phase of labour may stop/start and go on for 2 or 3 days, or it may gradually establish, but your body knows what to do! You need to concentrate on going with the flow, letting go, allowing your labour and birth to go its natural course without trying to mange and manipulate it. Attend to your basic needs whilst having confidence that every tightening, ache or full blown contraction is changing and preparing your body and bringing you gradually closer to meeting your baby.

If you have concerns or questions always remember to call your maternity unit; they are there to advise you, reassure you and will see you if it is necessary to do so.