or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Pregnancy and Birth › Birth and Beyond › Help me understand births that go "too fast"
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Help me understand births that go "too fast"

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I fully trust in womens ability to birth their babies. I am in awe of the female body! But I feel a need to be able to understand why some births go too fast. I am not thinking about when labours progress well because mama is relaxed and feels safe and supported. 


I am thinking about some labours that seem to fast for mama. Birthing times that only last a few hours or where contractions are very intense and with no break in between. And in this case I am not talking about when this happens because of an intervention, like manually breaking the water, or administering pitocin, but when the body does it by itself.


For example: a mama who birthed her second baby in only two hours. She was very scared of the birth beforehand, and tense and stressed during it all. So why didn't the bodys adrenaline production slow contractions down?


Why does the body speed it up so much sometimes?


post #2 of 24

My story will not completely answer your questions, but it may give some insight.


With DS1 (homebirth) I went into active labor at 12am, I started pushing at 1:45 am and he was born at 2:20 am.  I was actually trying not to push because the midwife did not arrive until 2am.  My labor was intense, but not unbearable, I didn't even wake up my husband until 1:30am because I didn't think it was that intense yet.  I was SHOCKED when I started pushing, I thought surely I wasn't ready to be pushing yet.  


My mom and my sisters had typical 12 hour labors with all of their children, they are all very similar in metabolism, height and body type.


My grandmother, whom I have a very similar body type and height to labored exactly as I did.  2 hour labors, 30 minutes pushing.


I'm going to go out on a limb and say genetics plays a HUGE factor in how women labor.    

post #3 of 24
I don't know why length of labor varies. There is not necessarily a right or wrong, and you can't judge the difficulty of a labor by its length. But short labors can have different issues from long ones.

My #1 was a normal 8 hour labor, but #2 lasted 2 hours start to finish. I had extensive prodomal labor. Two weeks before he was born, I remember finding myself on hands and knees on the living room floor doing pelvic tilts for some time trying to relieve the back pain.

When labor actually started with him, it felt like a fast forwarded version of my first birth. He was nearly unassisted since the midwife didn't believe I was far in labor since I appeared so calm. I freaked out during transition because I vomited with each contraction, but that lasted only 3 contractions. Then I pushed during 2-3 contractions and he was out, almost sooner than the midwife had put her gloves on.

How fast he was born did lead to more post-partum interventions than I had with my longer labor. He was born blue and needed resuscitation, midwife thought he looked like a c-section baby because he hadn't experienced enough labor to prepare his lungs for breathing. I also hemorrhaged afterward and was given pitocin, also common to fast, hard labors.

I remember not wanting to hold him right away when he was born, I wasn't expecting him right then and I felt overwhelmed. I felt guilty about that for a long time, until I came to understand that bonding issues are common with prodomal labors. It took me longer to come to terms with this birth than my first.
post #4 of 24

I've never had anything but precipitous labor, it's just how my body does it I guess.


Number one and two were just shy of 2.5 hours from SROM to birth. All planned homebirths. With the first two the midwife arrived 15-20 minutes before the birth. Both times the contractions were bearable but grew in strength and intensity.


This week we welcomed our son into the world. This time ROM didn't happen until I was pushing, but with the first contraction (at 11:12pm) I knew I would be welcoming my baby to the world soon, it began intense and only became more so! Our son was born at 12:33am, just over an hour after the FIRST contraction. I did have prodromal labor, but it was NOTHING compared to the real thing. In fact, I was checked after many bouts of prodromal just a couple days before he was born and I was at 2cm and not effaced at all. No complications as a result of my fast births, with the exception of my son being born unintentionally unassisted.

post #5 of 24

I'm not sure why it happens sometimes, but it certainly does. Stress seemed to speed my labor, once I passed into active labor. The more stressed out with the very hectic situation, the more intense contractions got, and when I was basically being assaulted, my contractions stacked one on top of the other with no more than a few second break between. Maybe my body's reaction to that stress was, rather than trying to keep baby with me, to try to make labor pass as quickly as possible? I had around two hours of non-augmented labor as a first time mother with active labor initiated by SROM. I did have several days of early labor (not prodromal, stop and start, but consistent, unyielding, progressively more intense and closer together contractions, but nothing like the intensity of active labor) before that, in retrospect, may have been my body getting my baby in position to come so quickly.

post #6 of 24

I also wonder if something like a woman's internal anatomy plays a role.  If your pelvic space/shape is in a certain way it may just naturally lead to faster progression and birth.  You might not even be able to tell by your outside shape.  This might come down a bit to genetics and just individual differences.

post #7 of 24


Originally Posted by havsulen View Post

For example: a mama who birthed her second baby in only two hours. She was very scared of the birth beforehand, and tense and stressed during it all. So why didn't the bodys adrenaline production slow contractions down?


I think sometimes we may overestimate the mental impacts on labor. I really do. Sure, stress & fear can inhibit the progress of labor - but they don't ALWAYS - as a matter of fact, it's probably more common for American women to be scared of birth than not, and yet 2/3 of babies are still born vaginally in the US. 

Originally Posted by goldingoddess View Post

I'm going to go out on a limb and say genetics plays a HUGE factor in how women labor.    

I totally agree & don't think that's going out on a limb at all. As a matter of fact, Cara Mulhan (HB MW from movie BoBB) wrote in her memoir, "Labor of Love" that she thinks genetics can have even MORE impact on labor than stuff like how much yoga or breathing relaxation exercises you did during pregnancy.

post #8 of 24
I had a 5 hour labor with dd. I think it would have been faster if I hadn't gone to the hospital (they insisted on a contraction monitor, fetal monitor, bp cuff and an iv, so I was very uncomfortable and basically stalled at 9 centimeters for two hours). Anyway, I had a lot of braxton hicks contractions during my pregnancy started at about 15 weeks. The last few weeks of my pregnancy, I had crampy sensations on top of the braxton's. Because of this I don't think I noticed when I went into early labor as it didn't feel any different. I'm also hyper mobile which can cause very fast labors and my mom was in labor with me for 45 minutes!
post #9 of 24

I think that genetics can have a huge role in how we labor, my first labor matched my mother's first labor almost exactly, including details that I didn't know about until after I had my daughter. 


I also think when a woman becomes stressed plays a role in how her body responds. if she's still early in labor, stress will probably stall labor, or slow things down. if she's farther into labor, then her body may speed things up. though that's just my guess, I don't have anything to really base it on. 

post #10 of 24

I don't know.  Some random, complex, interplay of "in the moment" factors would be my best guess.


None of my births have been similar to my mother's births, or her sister's births, or the births of my paternal relatives.  All three of my births have been very different although they all happened at roughly the same gestation and the babes were all within a few ounces of each other.


dd1- 42+weeks, 9lbs6oz, and roughly 32 hours of back labor... the final 19 of those "stuck" at 7cm despite non-stop double peaked contractions that nothing could shake.  Eventually my water birth ended in the OR with a c/s.


dd2- 40+weeks, 9lbseven, and 12 hours from start to finish.  Textbook progress and while there was some drama at the very end, it really was the "birth you read about in the natural birthing books".  I used hypnobabies in the birth tub, there were breaks between contractions and those contractions gradually increased in strength/length, etc.


d2- 42weeks to the day, 9lbs8oz, and 4.5 hours from first contraction (with long/hard/posterior cervix) to babe in arms,  It was "too fast".  It felt like one, long, never ending contraction.  I was unable to sit up in the tub, walk, or even roll over on the bed without dh and my doula assisting (I honestly don't remember getting from the tub to the bed and dh said he carried me because I couldn't "uncurl" from the fetal position myself).  I screamed more or less non-stop for those 4 hours.  The hypnobabies did nothing, I had a shot of stadol that did nothing, and although I felt FINE as soon as ds was out (well, I couldn't speak above a whisper for the entire day after) it was not an experience I ever, ever, EVER want again.


But was there any "real difference" between the births?  Not really.  I had loving attentive care providers, I had my doula, I had dh... the babes were nearly the same sizes...I did have heplocks for my vbacs and with ds I apparently had a fetal monitor belt towards the end along with that shot of useless stadol (but I have no memory of them putting it on and I couldn't move anyway so no harm, no foul!) but I used a tub in all the labors and always had a lot of freedom to move/scream/hypnobirth/etc... I wasn't afraid of birth and I felt safe each time...


I have to admit I'm really afraid of another "too fast" birth this time round.  I think I might actually be more afraid of that than I am of a rc/s.  It sounds crazy, but there it is.  I'll be working a lot on processing and preparing but I really don't know what choice I'll make if labor hits me like that again.

post #11 of 24
I had relatively quick labors too. DD was 7 hrs start to finish and DS was 5 hrs. DD was fine though and I don't think it was 'too fast' but it was a short time compared to a lot of first births. DS wasn't too intense but apparently he had positioning problems the doctor said was from the labor going so fast ( I more think it was from me not being allowed to move or anything with the hospital birth). I don't know what this time will bring but I'm expecting pretty fast labor again. Just for reference with dd I had no signs of labor (0% effaced and dilated) just a couple of days before. DS I had prodromal for about 2-3 weeks before (starting about 36-37 wks he was born on due date) and was dilated for that long up to 3cm the last week before birth. This time I'm about 31 weeks right now and already having more BH than I've ever had before. I wonder what the prodromal labor is going to do to this birth. I think that makes a difference in labor time at least for me. I get through a lot of the early labor stuff before I'm 'in labor' so the actual labor seems to go much faster.
post #12 of 24

Well, IME and for me, there's no such thing as a 'too fast' labour, but then again I don't have much in the way of comparison.


DD1 - Almost 24 hours of active labour, most of which were the worst of my life.  I was fine when the contractions were coming regularly with breaks in between as for the first 6 hours or so, but then I got stuck in transition for the next 15 hours.  Absolutely no breaks whatsoever - it was torturous, and looking back I have no idea how I stuck with it as long as I did.  Was eventually coerced into a hospital transfer, resulting in a very traumatic high forceps delivery (no pain meds).  From what we could figure out, DD1 was both asynclitic and posterior and just got stuck @ 10 cm with a lip.  I wasn't afraid going into her labour, just really impatient and excited - spontaneous labour at 43+1 weeks.


DD2 - Something like 45 minutes of labour! And even then I wasn't *entirely* convinced that I was in labour until I was pushing, which only lasted about 5 minutes! She was born at 43+6 weeks, so I think part of it was just that I was totally convinced I was never going to go into labour!  I was really scared of having another traumatic labour, scared of transferring and scared of being interfered with.  I did do Hypnobabies, which I think may have helped, though as I said, by the time I realised I was in labour it was too late to use any of my 'tools', but I think it helped me to be in a good mindset.  I also drank heaps of RRL tea in the last couple of months, hoping that it would encourage DD2 to come out a bit earlier than DD1.  Obviously didn't work for that, but may have contributed to the speedy labour?


But given the choice I would absolutely take the 'too fast' labour over the never-ending one.  With my very fast labour, I was having very powerful contractions 45 sec on/off that were *throwing* me to the floor of the shower each time.  (Somehow I had convinced myself that they were just bad tummy cramps! LOL) They didn't exactly hurt but were very powerful - but even then I remember thinking "If this is labour, at least I'm getting breaks between the contractions".  I had a 2nd degree tear along my previous episiotomy scar - probably from not having the time to stretch gently, and I lost quite a bit of blood a couple of hours after the birth and felt rather woozy.  It took me a while to feel normal afterwards, but still nothing like the recovery from my first birth, after which I was so sore and exhausted I would have laid down and died if I could.  This time was just feeling rather steam-rollered!


I suppose if I'd previously had a 'normal' textbook labour, of 8-12 hours of gently building contractions and a pushing stage that had given me time to stretch, I might have found my second labour 'too fast', but as it was I was just soooo grateful that it was quick and relatively easy, and I was able to have my UC :)


post #13 of 24

After my first most of mine have been fast, all under 4hours, one just over 2 hours, except my 7th, that was 14 hours. It wasn't a big deal to me, I prefer fast.

post #14 of 24

If I had not decided on pain medication for my births, I'm sure I would have felt that all three were too fast.  All of my labors started with PROM (the first two were actually PPROM, being 36 and 33 weeks.) 


My first, at 36 weeks, started with really mild contractions that were 8-9 min apart and didn't get stronger or closer for hours.  Then, when active labor kicked in, it was extremely sudden and intense and fast.  I went from 3cm to holding a baby in 4 hours.  All in all, I gave birth 11 hours after my water broke.


My second, at 33 weeks, started with me having an illness and complications, and although I had been having contractions for several days, they were bh contrax, no dilation or effacement and even a negative fetal fibronectin test.  Once again, my water broke, and this time contractions became suddenly intense about 2 hours later.  She was born 5 hours after my water broke.


My newest baby, a week old today, was born at 37 weeks.  Again, water broke, and contractions were mild and far apart at first.  Again, there was no build up, contractions went straight from mild and 6 min apart to extremely painful and 1-2 minutes apart.  It took 4 hours for the really intense contractions to begin from my water breaking.  I went from 5cm to birth in an hour and 45 min. 



I don't know if it truly counts as precipitous labor.  I was fortunate, I think, to be signaled to be in labor by my water breaking, because the first few hours of labor for me feel exactly like bh contractions.  And there is no warning of 8 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes or anything like that.  I just go right from calm and easy contractions to transition-like contractions.  My mom did have similar labor patterns, except that my sister and I were not preterm, and her water did not break before labor, but she did have the easy calm part and then right into hard labor without much warning and fast births.

post #15 of 24

None of the close female biological relatives I know of had anything resembling a fast labor. I don't have many to ask though, and both grandmothers delivered under twilight anesthesia, so that further reduces the sample.


I would describe mine as "too fast" for two reasons: tearing (may have been more related to purple pushing and lithotomy for delivery though, but we'll never know for sure) and lack of time to make a mental transition from mother of fetus to mother of newborn baby (I needed to push by the time I was sure I was in "real" labor, and then there was a baby). A lot of that may have been the situation (first time mom with a birth center to hospital transfer that meant I spent all but some pushing in the car or otherwise trying to get somewhere). It was intimidating with my first, but if I had been in a situation where I could just settle in and focus on labor, I think that might be different.

post #16 of 24

Out of my five labors 4 have been precipitous.  The one labor that wasn't was a pitocin induction with an epidural for macrosomia and baby was born within 5 hours of them starting the drip.  He weighed 10 pounds,  My first labor was 3 hours, then 5 hours, 2 hours, 90 minutes and 2.5 hours.  The last three babies were born at home while the first 2 were in hospital with epi's.  All completely uncomplicated.  With the 3 homebirths the only "bad" effects of the fast labors were that my uterus geared up and pushed the baby out before my body could produce enough endorphins to help me handle the contractions.  I still coped, but the contractions were VERY intense and painful.  I had incredible highs after the births, though!  I couldn't even sleep for hours.  I tore the worst during the longest labor but I attribute that to the way and position I pushed (val salva/supine).  I can't tell you why I birthed so quickly but if I had to choose, I honestly would rather have a precipitous birth than a really long one because I don't think I could have handled it.  The long unmedicated labors I have seen as a doula have made me appreciate my short ones!

post #17 of 24

I think this thread actual demonstrates what the OP was pointing out... some women have "fast births" and are either ok with them, or even prefer that sort of birth experience.  While other women have "fast births" that are traumatic and/or difficult for the mother to process or totally out of line with their other birth experiences and expectations.  So women in that first group really don't have births that are "too fast"... they have births that are right for them even if those births move more quickly than expected.  While women in the second group may spend the same amount of time in labor but really do suffer from it being "too fast".

post #18 of 24

Interesting thread!


My first birth was about 4 hours, the second was 2 hours and resulted in a UC in the back seat of the car on the way to the hospital, the third was 9 hours and then the last birth was 25 minutes from start to finish.


I did feel like the last birth was too fast and it was scary and intense. I woke up to the first contraction and was in transition. We didn't have time to do anything! The midwife had just gotten in her car when we called to say the baby had arrived already.


I did do some things differently with my two super fast births (acupuncture, extensive exercising) but I visited the chiropractor in the last three and my third birth was my longest (she was positioned funny).

post #19 of 24

Hmm. My first birth was about 12 hours, and my most recent birth was roughly 90 minutes from start to finish. At the time it was very intense and I remember thinking the words, "Too fast! Too fast!" while I was pacing the house before DH woke up and inflated/filled the birthing pool. It was very intense and I won't hesitate to say MUCH more painful than my first labor. The contractions came in what seemed like a solid wall instead of waves. It seemed like I went fro zero to transition in just a few minutes.


The pushing was much easier and far less agonizing than it had been the first time, and I didn't tear at all. Both of my babies had intact amniotic sacs at birth--DD was even born in the caul, and DS would have been but I couldn't push around the sac so my midwife had to needle the bag. I had false labor for weeks before DD's birth, so I'm guessing I was primed and ready to go by the time it was her turn to arrive in this world.


I don't know if I'd call the 90-minute labor "too fast" now, looking back, but at the time it was fairly terrifying if only because it was so unexpected. I would definitely prefer a shorter labor to a very long one! And I'll never forget the feeling of my baby wiggling and kicking her way down the birth canal while she was still inside me. It felt like she was on a Slip n' Slide. lol.gif

post #20 of 24

I bet genetics has a LOT to do with things, but also how nutrition interacts with genentics.


My SAD of the '50s eating grandmother had 6 easy births.


My vegetarian mother's first birth was 36 hours ending in c-section. Horrible back pain, but not "back labor" . With my little brother's birth, it took less time, but she needed pit for hemorrhaging (so her uterus wasn't clamping down properly after the birth despite nursing).


I was vegetarian at the time of dd's birth and that was 43 hours. Horrible back pain, but not "back labor".  Part of it was dd's hand needing to move off her head, but the random contractions were also a huge part of it.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Birth and Beyond
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Pregnancy and Birth › Birth and Beyond › Help me understand births that go "too fast"