Midwives and doctors commonly divide labor into 2 phases, Latent Phase (also known as, early labor) and Active Phase. This is a gross oversimplification of the entire process. This model which largely negates the preparatory process (described above) as a phase of labor. The idea that women are in “false labor” when painful, irregular contractions in the days before birth do not bring about cervical effacement and dilatation discounts the value of this preparatory phase.
As it stands now, the management of the progress of labor is limited by the factors which can be easily measured. In 1999, those measurements are dilatation and effacement of the cervix, and descent of the baby through the pelvis. Until a woman is measurably changing her cervix in the presence of uterine contractions, she is “not in active labor”.