As a new mum-to-be, you’re probably anxious about giving birth, even after taking parenting classes and ready every baby book available.
We don’t blame you! Mums-to-be have a host of reasons for fearing labour and delivery, especially since delivering a baby may involve a lot of pain and discomfort. You may also have heard scary stories of other mums enduring a prolonged labour, and are dreading it might happen to you.
You’ve probably researched ways to shorten your labour, or looked for tips to an easier, quicker deliver. After all, the shorter the delivery, the better, right?
However, while a speedy labour may be the dream of many mums-to-be, it’s not always a good thing. Just like giving birth too early, delivering too fast has complications - including potential risks for both you and your bub.
SmartParents asked experts as to what rapid labour entails, how it differs from regular labour, possible risks, and how to cope if it happens to you.
“Rapid labour (also referred to as precipitous labour) is defined as expulsion of the foetus less than three hours from the start of regular contractions,” explains Dr Christopher Ng, obstetrician, gynaecologist and medical director at Gynaemd Women’s & Rejuvenation Clinic.
In contrast, in normal or regular labour, the baby is born between three and 30 hours after regular contractions begin in women who have never given birth before. In women who have given birth once before, the baby arrives three to 15 hours after regular contractions start, he explains.
Whilst the prevalence of rapid labour in Singapore is not known, a 2014 study by the Centres for Disease and Prevention (CDC) in the US reports that over 21,000 or 2 per cent of 945,180 live births were linked to rapid labour.
Several factors increase its likelihood. “There is some suggestion that rapid labour may run in families,” notes Dr. Ng. “Induction of labour may also increase the risk, as well as maternal high blood pressure.”
In addition to the quick intensity of pain being harder on a mother’s body, rapid labour also presents other physical risks.
Dr Ng points out, “Rapid labour has been associated with a higher risk of tears and bruising of the cervix, vagina and perineum.”
Other complications include:
Another drawback of a quick labour is that the mum-to-be isn’t able to get an epidural or even make it to the hospital in time. This puts the mother and baby at risk of an unsterilised delivery.
Nevertheless, Dr Ng assures that most women with rapid labour have a few problems with delivery, since complications happen during normal labour as well. However, rapid labour us far more likely to give rise to emotional side effects.
Not having one’s spouse alongside to provide support, and having to abandon one’s original birth plan can understandably trigger feelings of anxiety and panic. The sudden onset and intensity of labour pains is also cause for emotional trauma, and may leave one scarred by the experience of childbirth.
As stress-inducing as it is, the key to a safe delivery is to take control of the situation, rather than let it dictate your emotional state. Do this by keeping calm, breathing and meditating to lower your anxiety levels.
Call for an ambulance and direct them to your hospital of choice as soon as you experience any labour contractions, Dr Ng advises. Also, ask for analgesia (if it is in your birth plan) as soon as you are in labour ward.
He advises, “It’s a good idea to pack a bag well beforehand too, so that you’re ready with whatever you need to bring to the hospital.”
If you’re unable to get to the hospital or help doesn’t come in time, don’t panic! Follow your instincts and bear in mind that your body is equipped to do this (even without doctors and nurses by your side!).
Unfortunately, both ob-gyns agree that one cannot prevent rapid labour, especially as it’s difficult to pinpoint the direct causes.
However, you can prepare, especially if you have a strong family history of rapid labour. Ensure that you have a birth partner such as your husband, doula, domestic helper or relative on standby closer to your due date. If they can come to your aid at a moment’s notice, you won’t have to give birth completely unassisted.
Click here to read the full article: https://www.smartparents.sg/pregnancy/giving-birth/why-rapid-labour-might-not-be-good-thing