A friend of mine was due with her second baby yesterday. She had a show last Tuesday (almost two weeks ago) and was told she was in the latent phase of labour. The midwife felt baby would be here that weekend, but alas she is now a day overdue and still waiting. Fortunately she has lots of family support and has been able to fully embrace offloading her son for a few hours here and there, and resting up. She’s in a good head space and knew all about the latent phase through friends who have regaled her with their birth stories over the years.
Do you know what the latent phase of labour is?
The first time I heard those three words were when I was in early labour with my four year old. Already a few days overdue, the contractions came and went throughout the Monday night and were pretty intense all day Tues. When the midwife came that evening she checked me over and advised us that I was 3cm dilated. Her opinion: baby would be here by morning. On the Friday (three days later) I was checked by another midwife who told us I was STILL 3cm dilated!
Apparently the latent phase could go on for days, weeks even, but hubby and I were beside ourselves. Not only was I now a week overdue in the height of the hottest summer in years and very uncomfortable, but he had started his paternity leave on the Tuesday and we had wasted almost a week of it. Luckily it turned out we didn’t have too much longer to wait. After trying several of the getting labour started tricks (as difficult to achieve as it was bedroom magic worked for us), our darling firstborn finally arrived on the Saturday afternoon.
I’ve written about her birth in detail here. The headlines are that she came into the world via a gory forceps delivery under the supervision of an amazing doctor who was determined for her birth to not be a c-section. I can’t fault her work in the slightest and remain eternally grateful to her. Although there were many of them my stitches healed up within a couple of weeks, the sign of a true expert from what I hear.
I hate to admit it, but second time around I got totally caught up in the hype again. Stories of baby number two coming so quickly the parents didn’t make it to the hospital were being bandied around and futilely got my hopes up. I was convinced she would be on time or a little early, but she ended up being later than her sister. I had a sweep on my due date and was told I was 3cm dilated. The midwife explained this was nothing to get excited about, because apparently after you’ve given birth it’s possible that your cervix never fully close up. Who knew? I was probably in the latent phase for a whole month, but only told hubby to stay off work at 40+12 when I lost the mucus plug first thing in the morning. Our second baby girl was delivered within 12 hours, naturally at the birthing centre by three utterly fabulous midwives. It was a much nicer experience this time round, helped immensely by not having a single stitch afterwards.
As for the third time – well I’m trying not to think about it to be honest. Ce la vie and all that. I do know one thing though: if someone DARES to mention the latent phase of labour, they are likely to be met with a very cold hard stare…and possibly a poke in the eye!!