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Patients & Visitors


Stages of Labour

There are 4 stages to labour:


This is when subtle and important changes are beginning to happen, and your contractions have started, which will make your cervix gradually shorten, thin and start to open up (dilate). Usually, this is the longest stage (more so if this is your first baby) and can last longer than 3 days.

During this stage, it is best to stay at home and be in your environment. Being at home encourages the hormone production that promotes your labour to progress. We would encourage you to stay at home until:

  • Your waters break OR
  • Your contractions have increased in strength and frequency OR
  • Your need further pain management OR
  • Your baby's movements have reduced or stopped OR
  • If you have any fresh red bleeding OR
  • You have any concerns.

If you have ANY of the above, you will need to contact us as soon as possible, so we can assess your needs over the phone and reassure you or invite you into your chosen place of birth.

Things that can help you during your latent phase:

  • A warm bath (you can have a warm bath even after your waters break but avoid bubbles/soap)
  • Paracetamol (following the instructions on the packet; no more than 8 tablets in 24hrs)
  • Massage
  • Movement using positions and your birthing ball
  • Distractions
  • Rest
  • Stay hydrated and eat small and regular meals


This is when you are having regular and strong contractions and feel the need to be in your chosen place of birth. We encourage you to call the midwife anytime you need to discuss your progress if you are unsure or have any concerns.

When you reach your first stage of labour, you will be welcome to stay at your chosen place of birth with your support person and can discuss your birth preferences with your midwife as well as all of your pain relief options. By this point, you will have reached at least 4cm dilation and be continuing to progress in your labour. Your waters DO NOT need to have broken to be in labour.


This is when your cervix is fully open (fully dilated) and you give birth to your baby. This is the part of labour where you help your baby move through your vagina by pushing with your contractions. This can be done in most positions, on land or in water.


This is the stage of labour that occurs after the birth of the baby. It is when your womb contracts and causes the placenta to come out through the vagina. There are 2 ways to birth your placenta:

  1. Your body will start having mild contractions again, the midwife will encourage you to push with these and deliver the placenta yourself.
  2. The midwife can give you a small injection which will encourage the womb to contract down and the midwife can gently deliver the placenta for you.

Please discuss these options with your midwife.

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