What is Precipitous Labor?

While most women hope to not have a prolonged labor, it is important to understand that labor that progresses too quickly can pose some challenges as well. A faster labor is termed precipitous labor.


What is precipitous labor?

Precipitous labor is when you deliver within 3 hours or sooner of the onset of uterine contractions. This is quicker than a “normal” labor which lasts anywhere from 6-12 hours, usually depending on whether or not you have had a normal birth before.

What causes precipitous labor?

The exact cause of why someone would have precipitous labor remains unknown. However certain factors may increase your risk for it.

These factors include:

  • You have had a normal vaginal birth before this
  • You have a history of precipitous labor in previous pregnancies
  • Your baby is low weight or small
  • Your uterine contractions are stronger and quicker
  • You have high blood pressure during labor

It is important to note that these factors may or may not contribute to quicker labor. If you’re concerned, be sure to communicate with your healthcare provider and watch for signs of precipitous labor.

What are the signs?

Here are some signs of precipitous labor you should look out for:

  • Your contractions come suddenly and are less far apart
  • The pain you feel with each contraction is super intense
  • Contractions feel longer 
  • Strong urge to push or poop

If you notice any of these, be sure to notify your healthcare provider immediately.

Are there any risks associated with this?

While a shorter, quicker labor may sound like an ideal situation for mothers, it can cause certain problems for you or your baby if not closely monitored. 

Some of these complications include:

  • Increased risk of bleeding or postpartum hemorrhage
  • Retained placenta or difficulty delivering the placenta 
  • Increased risk of tearing during birth
  • Increased risk of infection if you’re delivering outside of a designated birth area

If you have any other questions or concerns, ask your midwife during your next appointment or give us a call!