EMOTIONAL TRUTH ABOUT FAST LABOR AND DELIVERY
Just recently gave birth to my fifth child. Another baby boy to add to my growing tribe of warriors. Needless to say I’m elated, and of course I would be. By and large any mom will tell you a child is nothing short of amazing. Given that every child has their own unique entrance into this world it can get tricky.
With certainty, every pregnancy and every woman are like snowflakes. Yet and still most women would love to have babies quick and get it over with. I mean who are we kidding here, real pain is involved. In that case, I’m going to take a dive into why fast labor and delivery isn’t all it’s thought to be.
Since the labor and delivery of my first child, many years ago, my experiences have been somewhat of a phenomenon to me and those closest to me. Why? In a few words, because I have my babies fast. You may be thinking, like most, great! Lucky you. I see why that sounds like a good thing. Then again, with more detail, you’ll have a better understanding.
Let’s take a quick look at the normal labor and delivery education.
The 3 Stages of Labor
Any expecting mother, first time or otherwise will be exposed to the popular three stages of labor criteria. This education will outline an average labor and delivery. Seldom will it include the way right or way left options. Mainly, because they’re rare.
A typical labor begins early, however considering it’s barely noticeable, most women don’t realize is happening. Likely, the pain won’t kick in until the last 2-6 hours. In fact, some may experience this labor for weeks before the second stage and not really be bothered by it at all.
The cervix thins and dilates a bit while you move through life in anticipation for the big day. On your worst day, you may experience some loose bowels and some lower abdominal pressure before contraction actually start. You may feel anticipation, excitement, or some anxiety and nerves.
Eventually, mild contractions will start lasting around 30-45 seconds. Nothing too intense, just your body slowly progressing along.
Most often, they’re decently spread apart so you’ll have a lot of break time.
Provide that you have a plan in place, you can put it into action. For instant, get your stuff together and in the car; call your family and midwife. Take a shower, eat a snack, and make your way to the birth center. Enjoy it.
Moving forward, the second stage of labor is what’s called active labor. At this point, you know you’re in labor. The cervix dilates much more. During this second stage 2-3 hours is average. By this time, you’re settled into the birth center or hospital and everybody is around that you’ve called. Checking in is a breeze. All that’s left is the wait for the final stage. The anticipation is excruciating I’m sure.
Meanwhile, you’ve got time to take some pictures, and embrace coaching. You’ve developed a groove with breathing by now. The contractions are closer together and a bit longer and stronger.
With each stage, you feel an increase which you’ve progressively lead up to. You won’t have as much time for breaks now. But still, you can stay hydrated, snack if needed, or get an epidural if that’s your desire.
If nothing else, capitalize on the breaks as they come by resting.
You’ll even want to make sure you get up and pee when needed.
Stage three is what’s called transitional labor. Finally, the moment everybody’s been patiently waiting for. This is where you really get into it and finally push to meet your baby. It hurts. No lie here. Due to the strongest and longest contractions, the cervix cervix and uterus are working the hardest now.
This period of time can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. It can take up to three hours but if you’ve been progressing along you can expect to meet your baby sooner than later.
All the work you’ve done up to this time is the final stretch, in hope to meet your baby. Contractions again will increase in strength, and lengthen all the while you are engaged by pushing.
There you have it, on the short side you’re looking at 8 hours. On the long side, you’re looking at 20 hours.
Fast Labor and Delivery
Stay with me.
To clarify, the Lord has blessed me bearing children for 12 years now. It’s been normal to hear that I am lucky to have a fast labor and deliver. Obviously, compared to long drawn out labor and delivery. Or maybe just regular. Since the kind of fast labor and delivery I have is rare,’s it hard to know what is meant.
My eyes have been opened to the truth about my experiences and I would like to put this into perspective for you.
So, I have what’s called precipitous labor, in other words, it’s fast labor and delivery.
Except, it’s abnormally fast. Not oh, lucky you fast.
Come to learn, there’s a huge difference.
Precipitous labor is defined by a labor and delivery that starts and expels the baby in under 3 hours. With that in mind, imagine stage one, two and three all happening within a three hour period of time or less.
In contrast, the polar opposite would be a prolonged labor that lasts more than 30 hours. I’ve birthed four children in less than 3 hours. Two in under two hours. The one that took his time was a whopping 5 hours long.
By my body’s standards, he’s a slow poke! 🙂
At first glance, it’s easy to say that is great. You didn’t have to endure the hours of pain. And admittedly, for years I agreed.
But truth is, didn’t I?
My fifth birth began at 6:45 am and I was holding my baby 98 minutes later.
Precipitous labor causes the mother; baby and anyone else who was supposed to be involved, great chaos and possible disappointment. Not to mention, there are women to suffer from PTSD or bodily injury from this kind of fast labor and delivery.
Keep reading for a list of some things precipitous labor interferes with?
There’s no time to prepare.
Women who have precipitous labor pretty much skip the first and second stage or they go so fast there is no workable progression. My water broke and I took a shower in a 30 minute time frame and by the time I called my midwife, I was at a point I couldn’t even speak through a contraction.
I couldn’t speak through a quick conversation to my sister in law to take my daughter to school. My husband was reduced to sitting on speaker phone listening to my breathing through contractions that wouldn’t stop coming just 60 minutes after the start. And I couldn’t communicate with my mom what needed to be done or not.
Furthermore, there is no prepping the room, no setting up music or photography.
Imagine booking a photographer that misses the whole thing!!
There’s no “everybody in place” doing their part to keep you calm and encouraged.
Your husband may not make it to see the birth.
Many women who have fast labor and delivery feel the disappointment of their spouse, or family members not making it in time. They walk in just after the baby has been delivered. Or into a sight so chaotic it’s impossible to take in what is even happening.
We have been very blessed that my husband has had a very flexible job and works relatively close enough to have made it. There is no way I could transport myself to our place of delivery. He left his job, made it home to pick me up, and got me to the birth center in record time, 33 minutes.
If he or we had sat at one more light or got stuck behind a slow vehicle, I would have ended up delivering in the car on the side of the road or in traffic for that matter.
My contractions increased in strength and length to the degree that in the period of ten minutes I was enduring one steady excruciating contraction with NO BREAK. I could barely walk as I had strained breathing, weak legs, and breaking a sweat while moving at the speed of a snail into the building and down the hallway.
Most women would be already settled in and having endured at least several hours of preparation by this time.
Your doctor or midwife usually doesn’t make it to deliver your baby.
Unless you go into labor during business hours and your doctor or midwife is on duty at your place of delivery, you’ll likely have a stranger deliver your baby after having spent 9 months building a relationship with someone completely different.
Thankfully we delivered at a birth center where we built relationships with everybody.
Upon arrival at the birth center at 8:13 am it took me 5 minutes to get from the car into an empty building with no one there to deliver my baby. Due to the intense contractions I could do nothing else but knee down on cold bathroom floor. Immediately, I felt the need to push.
My husband life must’ve flashed before his eyes, seeing as there was no medical staff available to deliver our baby.
One of the midwives just happen to be coming in for clinical duty that day and immediately delivered my baby. That’s one way to start your day.
But, what if she was a just a receptionist. The midwife I spoke to just 40 minutes prior was still on her way through traffic.
She made it minutes after his delivery.
Many women who have fast labor and delivery have no way of telling if they are fully dilated and ready to push their baby out.
Although I have been lucky enough to have a bulging bag every time, which I believe helps avoid tearing, tearing is a huge misfortune to precipitous labors.
A woman will most likely choose the pushover waiting. Especially, if no one is there to coach her to slow down or stop. The one time my bag broke before pushing, I tore.
Your body goes through massive intensity in a short period of time.
Partial definition of precipitous labor is “having a particularly effective uterus that contracts with great strength”. My uterus progresses quickly in contractions. By nature, this is why I have fast labor and delivery.
The strength by which it contracts is intense and steady.
According to the staged labor criteria, the time to call your doctor or midwife is at 5-1-1. Meaning, when you’re having contractions that are 5 minutes apart, lasting at least 1 minute for 1 hour.
My contractions started at 2-3 minutes apart lasting 30 seconds and jumped to 1-2 minutes apart lasting 1-2 minutes in the frame of 30 minutes. Expecting my body to catch up to that is mind-boggling. Nor did I have time to set my plans in place, call a midwife and get to my place of birth with any time to spare.
With furious speed, my body ramped up so fast and then I was forced to push my baby out.
Saying I was discombobulated is an understatement.
There was no time to acclimate to my surroundings or the delivery of my baby. He was born with the cord wrapped around his neck twice and around his arm when he came out. His color was steel gray.
Although I was holding him, I didn’t have the brain function to stimulate him or truly understand what was going on. My body was in shock.
As a reminder, this is the fourth time I have had a fast labor and delivery in this fashion.
You don’t get to enjoy the process of birth.
Alas, when you go into labor it is something you have been waiting 9 months for. You’ve set people and plans in place for when the time comes.
Bags are packed and prepared to the best of your ability, in hopes of a good memorable experience for yourself and baby. Now, over the next 8 to 20 hours you can enjoy the process of laboring. Your body will do what it was created to do and you will birth your baby.
Except, I just squeezed all of that into 98 minutes.
I don’t initially remember most of what even happens. It took me several days and multiple perspectives to fill in the gaps and formulate a full story.
Most women will tell you if there’s ever a time you cannot multitask it’s during contractions. Trying to focus on more than one thing while enduring a ten-minute long contraction is mission impossible.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m so incredibly enamored with my son. He is the sweetness to my day. It’s a blessing, he’s healthy and well. All of them!
Effects of Fast Labor and Delivery
However, I am saddened when I look into his handsome little face and see his bloodshot eyes from being rocketed out. I have some despair and concern that if we had missed one traffic light I would have delivered him in the car.
Questions plague me on whether I could’ve gotten the cord from around his neck in time. It’s disconcerting that my next birth could be even faster!
Sure having a fast labor and delivery has some pros but it is not all it’s cracked up to be.
There are only 3% of women who have precipitous labor and for the first time I finally understand and I don’t feel so alone.
Ultimately God is in Control
Rest and joy come from knowing God is in control. In the end, there’s no way to truly prepare for any birth. It’ll go as it goes and we’ll adjust to it as it comes. If this is you though, I am with you. It’s rare and it takes time to heal and find normal again.
Even thought fast labor and delivery takes place doesn’t mean the body isn’t intensely effected. Hang in there.
I’m blessed to have had 5 natural births of 5 healthy and fascinating boys. I look forward to doing it again.
What is your birth story like? Share your amazing feat in the comments below.