What is the latency phase?

Delivery, Questions/answers

The doctor told me that I am in the latency phase, but I don’t know what that means. I am 39 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and I sometimes wake up at night due to contractions. I know my baby is coming soon! Thanks for your help, Christine

Christine, the latency phase of labour is the period before you start active labour leading to the delivery of your baby. This phase can be long and characterised by irregular and variably intense contractions.

Additionally, the cervix doesn’t seem to efface or dilate, but it’s a progressive phase that slowly evolves. This period is often spent at home, and you should continue with your daily activities as much as possible. Take a couple of baths to see if the contractions stop or continue. When the contractions become regular with intervals of 5 minutes or less and they are affecting the cervix (thinning and opening it), this is the active stage of labour. When the active phase starts, usually the woman is already at the hospital because she often needs support due to contraction intensity. This phase will last until about 7cm of dilation before starting the 3rd phase, called the transition phase (in France it’s called the “despair” phase, for a good reason 😊). The transition phase is usually short but requires more support. The woman may be disorganised, more anxious, and her partner at her side may feel stressed due to her reactions. So the couple will need to be reassured and receive fast support to relieve the pain and reduce stress as the situation intensifies!

The transition phase lasts until full dilation of the cervix. Then, the pushing phase starts, where the mother pushed out the baby to bring it into the world. Today, we promote letting the woman push when she feels the need, called the “fetal ejection reflex.” Childbirth is intuitive, but you have to be aware of what your body is telling you. The woman needs to trust her capacities and hospital staff. They there to remind her that she has everything she needs to bring her baby into the world, that they believe in her, she can do it and doesn’t need to be saved.

Christine, I hope this helps you understand the different phases better. All the best going forward!

Please watch the following video about labour:

Talk soon,


The Baby Expert

Christine, la phase de latence du travail,………( à mettre dans le texte lien cliquable)

. Quand les contractions

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