How Labour Begins


Once you have early signs of labor, you are in the “Latent phase”.

The start of labor is called the latent phase of labor.

If you are more than 37 weeks with an uncomplicated pregnancy, you’ll probably be advised to stay at home until your labor is ‘established’. This is when your cervix opens (dilates) to at least 4cm and your contractions become stronger and more regular. Your cervix becomes soft and thin and starts opening for your baby to be born. This entire process can happen in few hours, or sometimes days, before you move into active labor phase.

Every woman’s experience of labor is different. However, there are several signs that you may experience in general, indicating that labor is starting. Let’s see;

  1. Mucus plug from your cervix comes out, it appears as a pink-brown jelly-like blob or in pieces

  2. There’s an urge to go to the toilet; typically caused by your baby’s head pressing on your bowel

  3. When you experience pains in your tummy that may feel like strong period pains 

  4. When you experience lower back pain

What can you do during latent phase?

  • Eat & drink healthy; you'll need energy when actual labor is established

  • Be more relaxed and move around

  • Staying in upright position will help in quicker progress of labor as gravity will play a key role. This helps your baby to move down into your pelvis and helps your cervix to dilate

  • Do not get stressed

  • Try to get some sleep if your labor starts at night. Breathing exercises, massage and having a warm bath may help ease your pain during this early stage of labor

If you have been advised to stay at home in the latent stage, contact your midwife, maternity unit or labor ward again if:

  • Your contractions are regular and coming about 3 in every 10 minutes

  • You feel you need pain relief; you can ask for an epidural

  • Your waters break

  • You have any bleeding

What exactly happens when labor begins?

As you get closer to labor and delivery, chiefly two things will happen; your cervix will begin to;

  1. Dilate (open up), and

  2. Efface (thin out)


  • If the cervix is soft and stretchy then it is said to be favourable. However, if it is firm, muscular and tight then it is known as unripe.

  • During pregnancy a woman’s cervix tends to be posterior or positioned more towards her back and behind her baby’s head. But at late pregnancy stage and labor the cervix comes more forward.


Download Mamily Mobile App

play-store app-store