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Precipitous labor is a fancy medical term for rapid labor. Every woman’s labor is a little different, and some women will face complications and delays that force their doctor to induce labor. Extremes in either direction have their drawbacks.
A woman who’s been in labor for days may think that a precipitous birth is great.
But, as I’m going to explain, there are a few drawbacks that need to be noted. The good news is that most women will still birth a healthy baby – a goal of every mom-to-be.
1. How Fast is Precipitous Labor?
Fast. When a woman goes into labor, she can expect to go through three stages of labor and birth over a period of 6 – 18 hours. These stages are:
Women who are lucky enough to go through fast labor can give birth in as little as 3 – 5 hours. Your baby is ready to see and experience the world, and there is nothing holding him or her back from finding a way to your heart.
2. What Factors Impact Rapid Labor?
There are numerous factors that cause a rapid labor:
- The baby is smaller in size
- The birth canal is perfect for birth
- Prior family history
- Strong, efficient contractions
There are women, some of them my friends, that have gone through labor in mere hours. These women aren’t particularly special in normal circumstances, but they’re built to give birth. If you’ve ever studied history before, you know that the larger women were often praised for their ability to keep clans alive because they were able to birth a child with ease.
3. Are There Any Signs to Tell If Labor Will Be Rapid?
Signs vary, but if you’re sitting there hoping and praying that your labor goes by quickly, there are a few signs that may indicate a precipitous delivery:
- Intense, close contractions
- No recovery time between contractions
- Extreme feeling of bearing down
Many women will note that they have an urge to push and an extreme feeling of bearing down. When this occurs, it’s a sign that the cervix is dilating rapidly, priming the body to give birth within hours.
4. Are There Downsides to Precipitous Labor?
Yes. First-time mothers will find that they have very little time to cope with the pain of labor. There are some births where the women describe the pain as one continuous contraction that provides little to no recovery time for the woman between contractions.
Women who have never given birth will find that they can’t cope with the pain and may feel as if they’re out of control.
It’s a scary feeling for any mother-to-be.
Rapid labor can also leave little time for friends or family to make it to the delivery. If you’ve always wanted your mother to be in the delivery room, this may cause her to miss the delivery because everything happens so quickly.
And there is limited time to make it to the hospital, too.
5. Is My Baby at Risk?
No. Not normally. A baby that goes through a rapid birth is normally healthy, but there are two main risks that every mother-to-be must consider:
- Infection: A rapid birth can lead to an unsterilized delivery, which may result in an infection. This is a result of giving birth in a non-hospital setting due to the lack of time your baby allows you to get to the emergency room.
- Aspiration: There is the potential for aspiration of the amniotic fluid.
A few of the ways that doctors recommend you lower these risks are:
- Work with a doula that can assist in birth
- Contact 911 or your doctor immediately
- Work with a midwife
If you know you’re at risk of a quick birth, you can also make arrangements to stay in the hospital. The downside is that no one will know for sure when you’ll give birth. There’s always a chance that your baby decides it’s time to come out now.
And there’s no controlling mother nature in this scenario.
6. Is There Anyone Who Can Help?
No. Many mothers-to-be will call a nurse and expect them to be able to slow their labor down. Sadly, there is nothing that a nurse can do besides stay by your side and help you through the pregnancy. A nurse may come in to check your vitals, but when he or she does, it’s normally too late anyway – the baby is on its way out.
But this doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to tell your nurse that now is the time you’re birthing.
Many women think that because a nurse isn’t going to be able to help, they shouldn’t bother calling them even when they’re in the hospital room.
A nurse will call on the doctor, so be prepared for your room to be filled with people.
It’s not uncommon for med students, doctors and nurses to rush into the room to watch the woman go through precipitous birth. It’s a lot of pressure, but you’ll be so focused on the extreme contractions that you won’t even mind your room filled with strangers looking at your lady parts.
Quick and Scary Realizations of a Precipitous Birth
Your labor is a little different, and there’s nothing wrong with this at all. You’re unique, and your child’s birth should be unique, too. But, since this is a rapid birth, it does pose a few scary results that you need to know about well before you go into labor:
- There’s a chance that your doctor won’t make it in time for birth. A medical professional will be in the room, but your doctor may not have enough time to make it to the hospital before you give birth.
- Your partner, unless they’re home at the time, may not make it to the hospital in time to watch the birth take place. Your first instinct may be to beat him silly, but remember that there are just hours before the baby is born. It’s also better he arrive to the hospital safely and than get into an accident along the way.
- You may miss the normal labor experience. Some women will go into labor and give birth in less than an hour. This may seem like a time of rejoice, and it is, but you might also miss the entire experience along the way. With that said, many women would tell you that you’re lucky to skip right through the long hours of pain.
- After you’ve given birth, be prepared to be mentally and physically drained from the experience. This is an intense form of labor, and while it’s over in a flash, you’ll feel like the life has been sucked right out of you.
Precipitous labor is a fast-track to having a child, and after nine months of pregnancy, many women are ecstatic that their baby decided to come right out instead of going through a prolonged labor.
You’ll be exhausted, and mom will need to have some time to herself to recover. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t feel like nursing immediately, your body is in shock. Sleep when the baby sleeps, and take any time to yourself that you can during these vital first days after pregnancy.
If your partner is helpful, it will speed up the recovery process greatly, allowing you to jump right into the role of a loving, caring mother.