Official reprint from UpToDate®
www.uptodate.com ©2015 UpToDate®

Latent phase of labor

Andrew J Satin, MD, FACOG
Section Editor
Charles J Lockwood, MD, MHCM
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


Normal labor refers to the presence of regular uterine contractions that cause progressive dilation and effacement of the cervix and fetal descent. It is viewed in terms of its phases: latent, active, and decelerative; and its stages: first, second, and third.

The latent phase of labor will be reviewed here. Other aspects of labor and labor abnormalities are discussed separately:

(See "Mechanism of normal labor and delivery".)

(See "Overview of normal labor and protraction and arrest disorders".)

(See "Management of normal labor and delivery".)


Subscribers log in here

To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information or to purchase a personal subscription, click below on the option that best describes you:
Literature review current through: Feb 2015. | This topic last updated: Sep 19, 2014.
The content on the UpToDate website is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. The use of this website is governed by the UpToDate Terms of Use ©2015 UpToDate, Inc.
  1. Effer SB, Bértola RP, Vrettos A, Caldeyro-Barcia R. Quantitative study of the regularity of uterine contractile rhythm in labor. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1969; 105:909.
  2. Granström L, Ekman G, Ulmsten U, Malmström A. Changes in the connective tissue of corpus and cervix uteri during ripening and labour in term pregnancy. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1989; 96:1198.
  3. Zhang J, Troendle J, Mikolajczyk R, et al. The natural history of the normal first stage of labor. Obstet Gynecol 2010; 115:705.
  4. Friedman EA. The labor curve. Clin Perinatol 1981; 8:15.
  5. Friedman EA, Niswander KR, Sachtleben MR, Nemore J. Dysfunctional labor. 8. Relative accuracy of clinical and graphic diagnostic methods. Obstet Gynecol 1969; 33:145.
  6. Friedman, EA. Labor: Clinical evaluation and management. Appleton-Century-Crofts, 2nd edition, New York 1978, p 73.
  7. Cheng YW, Delaney SS, Hopkins LM, Caughey AB. The association between the length of first stage of labor, mode of delivery, and perinatal outcomes in women undergoing induction of labor. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2009; 201:477.e1.
  8. Vahratian A, Hoffman MK, Troendle JF, Zhang J. The impact of parity on course of labor in a contemporary population. Birth 2006; 33:12.
  9. Rinehart BK, Terrone DA, Hudson C, et al. Lack of utility of standard labor curves in the prediction of progression during labor induction. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2000; 182:1520.
  10. Harper LM, Caughey AB, Odibo AO, et al. Normal progress of induced labor. Obstet Gynecol 2012; 119:1113.
  11. Peisner DB, Rosen MG. Latent phase of labor in normal patients: a reassessment. Obstet Gynecol 1985; 66:644.
  12. Wong CA, Scavone BM, Peaceman AM, et al. The risk of cesarean delivery with neuraxial analgesia given early versus late in labor. N Engl J Med 2005; 352:655.
  13. Bailit JL, Dierker L, Blanchard MH, Mercer BM. Outcomes of women presenting in active versus latent phase of spontaneous labor. Obstet Gynecol 2005; 105:77.
  14. Impey L, Hobson J, O'herlihy C. Graphic analysis of actively managed labor: prospective computation of labor progress in 500 consecutive nulliparous women in spontaneous labor at term. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2000; 183:438.
  15. Boylan PC, Parisi VM. Effect of active management on latent phase labor. Am J Perinatol 1990; 7:363.
  16. Koontz WL, Bishop EH. Management of the latent phase of labor. Clin Obstet Gynecol 1982; 25:111.
  17. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetric Practice. ACOG committee opinion. No. 339: Analgesia and cesarean delivery rates. Obstet Gynecol 2006; 107:1487.
  18. Bräne E, Olsson A, Andolf E. A randomized controlled trial on early induction compared to expectant management of nulliparous women with prolonged latent phases. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2014; 93:1042.
  19. Rouse DJ, Weiner SJ, Bloom SL, et al. Failed labor induction: toward an objective diagnosis. Obstet Gynecol 2011; 117:267.
  20. Nachum Z, Garmi G, Kadan Y, et al. Comparison between amniotomy, oxytocin or both for augmentation of labor in prolonged latent phase: a randomized controlled trial. Reprod Biol Endocrinol 2010; 8:136.
  21. Smyth RM, Markham C, Dowswell T. Amniotomy for shortening spontaneous labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013; 6:CD006167.
  22. Mitchell MD, Flint AP, Bibby J, et al. Rapid increases in plasma prostaglandin concentrations after vaginal examination and amniotomy. Br Med J 1977; 2:1183.
  23. Vincent M. Amniotomy: to do or not to do? RCM Midwives 2005; 8:228.
  24. Chelmow D, Kilpatrick SJ, Laros RK Jr. Maternal and neonatal outcomes after prolonged latent phase. Obstet Gynecol 1993; 81:486.
  25. Maghoma J, Buchmann EJ. Maternal and fetal risks associated with prolonged latent phase of labour. J Obstet Gynaecol 2002; 22:16.
  26. Gharoro EP, Enabudoso EJ. Labour management: an appraisal of the role of false labour and latent phase on the delivery mode. J Obstet Gynaecol 2006; 26:534.