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What is a precipitous birth?

Is there an ideal length of time to be in labour for? And to those shouting ‘zero time’ right now, we hear you. 😅 Well, precipitous births are births that last less than three hours after contractions begin. ⁠

Three hours!? That’s right. But while a precipitous labour might be what we all cross our fingers for while we’re pregnant, there are a few risks that come with such a short labour to be aware of.

  1. There's a higher chance of vaginal trauma (tearing).
  2. You are more likely to experience some heavier bleeding after delivery.
  3. Some women experience significant adjustment or mental health challenges afterwards due to the speed of delivery In a precipitous birth.
  4. Baby does not experience that long squeeze as they travel down the birth canal. This means that sometimes the amniotic fluid that’s stored in their lungs is not pushed out so effectively, which may lead to a lot of coughing and sneezing at first or even needing some help draining their lungs from a doctor or midwife.

Precipitous labour can be quite overwhelming and it’s easy to feel a bit out of control. If it all feels a bit of a shock, know that this is completely normal. But if your experience of precipitous labour starts to affect how you’re feeling on a day-to-day basis, make sure you contact your midwife or GP and have a chat to them about it.