Getting Started


This is the first of four posts that will follow your journey through labour. Labour tends to move through these four stages fluidly; there are no sudden breaks or stops between phases.   

Getting started – The Latent phase

‘The division of the first stage of labour into latent and active is  clinician based and not necessarily resonant with the lived experience of labour, as women with long latent phases have been trying to tell us for ages.’

Denis Walsh (2007)

Denis sums it up so well.   This post is going to look at those beginning stages when the surges are coming really irregularly and you are not sure whether this is it, or not.


This stage is known clinically as the Latent Phase of Labour.  It is the beginning of labour when the cervix is just starting to thin and flatten, and the phase is where it moves forward from behind your baby’s head to the top and will start to open.  You might be described as having ‘niggling tightenings as it can get uncomfortable whilst your body is working out what it needs to do. It’s time to get your oxytocin flowing and to embrace your intuition.

What is happening

So Getting Started – that phase when notable changes are starting to happen to you.  You might have had a bloody show that has come away in one go or is taking its slippery time.  You might be feeling very sick, or be visiting the bathroom frequently.  You might well be feeling a bit odd without reason.  You might get a burst of energy and be mopping your kitchen floor at midnight.  All these things are good signs that your baby is letting you know that they are almost ready.

What it feels like

The surges may have started to form a  pattern for an hour or so, perhaps they are coming about 3 or 4 times an hour, enough to distract you momentarily from what you are doing.  But not enough to stop you from doing it.  Your uterus is toning up those muscles and getting them into working mode,  the muscles are tentatively stretching and relaxing again. They are building up, relaxing and preparing themselves.  Sometimes they will come every couple of minutes and then not for a while.  Generally these surges only last long enough for you to notice them and then they start to fade away.

What should I do?

During this stage it is best to just carry on with life as you had planned.  Continue to observe your baby’s movements.  Then…..Walk the dog, ….. prepare the dinner.   ….. Make sure your birthing bags have everything in them you need …… Have a bath ….. try a heat pad, …..  read a book.  Bounce on your birthing ball …… Watch your favourite film. ….. Make a meal, or prepare some snacks. Drink some water.….. Nap as you can. Utilizing the tools and techniques that hypnobirthing teaches you will help you through this phase.  Listening to your affirmations and visualisations will help you prepare your mind for what is to come.  The key to the getting started phase is to get yourself comfortable and ignore, ignore, ignore.

But what if….?

That said… if your waters break, you should phone the maternity unit straight away, or if you are bleeding, if your baby is not moving the way that s/he normally does or if you are just concerned about something, give your maternity unit a call and they will advise you. 

What now?

Hypnobirthing is a tried and tested way of helping you reduce anxiety and get into the right headspace to labour without fear.  The Calm Births course will show you how to relax into your labour both physically and emotionally.  If you would like a copy my free 7 frequently asked questions booklet please drop me an email or to book on to one of my classes click [here]

Published by Medway Hypnobirth

My name is Gill and I am the founder of Medway Hypnobirth. I am a former Midwife with over 15 years experience in antenatal, labour and postnatal care. I have a passion for birth and hope to share my passion for birth with you. I have 3 grown up children (the first of whom followed a long journey of infertility and IVF) who were all born in hospital. I followed my birthing plan which literally stated that I wanted a 'homebirth in hospital'. Throughout my Midwifery journey, I have been present at a fair few homebirths and seen many more babies birthed in hospital and in theatre. Birth follows its own course and I have seen hypnobirth techniques helping many women stay in control of their birth however it happens. I absolutely love teaching hypnobirth, as I can see how it positively affects my clients birthing experiences. The personal support that I can give you at your birth is another key service that I provide. My doula clients get to appreciate that extra level of emotional support that having a doula give you. If you want to find out more about any of the services I provide. Do not hesitate to contact me.

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