What is rapid labour?
Precipitate or rapid labour is labour that is over in less than 3 hours, from the onset of the first contraction, to the birth of the baby. We tell you happens, and how to deliver your own baby!

With first babies, rapid labour is less common, but it’s still not impossible that you could end up having your baby delivered at home or in a car on the way to the hospital. If you do have a precipitate labour, the chances are almost certain that any subsequent births will also be very fast.

No doubt many women hope for a quick delivery, but speak to women who have had the experience and you might find that there are benefits to a labour that is of normal duration. For one thing, your body has time to adjust. There’s a gradual build-up of endorphins to help you cope with the increasing levels of pain. With a rapid labour, you go from 0 to 100 in one dramatic leap and there’s little time to prepare.

How to know it’s happening

It’s not always easy to know if you should be concerned – especially if you haven’t given birth before. The most important signifier is probably the rapid onset of regular, sharp contractions that form a pattern. If you find yourself in a situation where your contractions suddenly appear out of the blue, and you’re so overwhelmed that the rest of the world fades out, you should realise that this is unusual, as first labours usually last around 12 hours or more.

What to do if it happens

Get to a hospital as soon as you can. If you’re alone, try and get someone to come and help you. A neighbour, your spouse, a friend.  Don’t worry if your hospital bag isn’t packed yet, that can be dealt with later, and getting medical assistance is far more important than worrying about batteries for the camera.

If you realise that you’re not going to get to a hospital on time, call the paramedics. Make sure the front door is unlocked, so they can get it without kicking your door down.

What options to consider if you’ve already experienced it

With your next pregnancy, tell your caregiver from the start that you tend to have rapid labours. Your doctor might want to monitor you more closely, or even schedule an induction ahead of your due date. If you choose the wait-and-see option, go to the hospital as soon as you feel the first contraction.

How to deliver your own baby

If you deliver at a place without medical help or have to deliver somebody somewhere, try not to panic. Let you natural instinct take over.  If you can phone your midwife, gynae or any hospital with a maternity unit, they will be able to talk you through it.  If you are on your own, phone somebody who you know can get to you the quickest.  If on the highway, stop and deliver the baby if she starts pushing.

If you are pregnant buy a pack of linen savers and keep some in your handbag, car, office and at home. Even newspapers can work very well for lining the area where the delivery is taking place.  Get as many towels or warm blankets as possible and something warm to cover mom with.

Precipitate deliveries normally take care of themselves and are so quick that the most important part is afterwards.  The baby needs to be put on top of the mother, higher than the stomach.  The baby should be left on the mother and covered with towels or blankets to help keep him warm. 

Do not worry about cutting the cord, put lots of newspapers on the backseat of the car and take the mother to the nearest hospital. If the mother is up to it she can try to breastfeed, as this will help to control the bleeding. If you are alone keep your baby close to your body while you wait for help to arrive.  

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