The management of the latent phase of labour, especially for women expecting their first babies, will always be a challenge. The evidence base would indicate that admission to hospital in latent phase of labour increases the likelihood of a cascade of intervention. The challenge for midwives lies in assisting the woman to stay at home until labour becomes established. This may be achieved by increasing the woman’s confidence in her inherent ability to cope and work with her body.
Nolan (2005) states that some women expressed feelings of fear at home whilst in the latent phase of labour. Worrying leads to increased adrenalin levels thereby causing decreased oxytocin levels. A possible consequence of this is a woman presenting in an exhausted, tense and miserable state with irregular and incoordinate uterine activity.
Studies report that midwives attitudes can impact on women, a dismissive or critical attitude can have a negative impact on labour by further increasing adrenalin levels. During initial telephone conversations and face to face contact it is essential for the health care professional to be caring and compassionate (Draft Framework for Maternity Services 2010)
Although many factors contribute to a prolonged latent phase, two problems consistently associated are high maternal anxiety and a mal-positioned fetal head. It is useful to consider both of these factors when offering advice and support to women.