Midwife Anne Richley explains what to do if your baby has a super-speedy birth - before you can make it to hospital.
You’ve probably heard stories about mums giving birth unexpectedly in their bathroom or in the hospital car park – their babies coming before they have time to get anywhere near the delivery room.
Although it’s unusual, (you’ll no doubt hear a lot more stories about long labours), it’s best for you and your birth partner to be prepared and armed with the right info, just in case your little one decides he’s going to make a fast and unexpected arrival.
It’s the one question every mum in labour wants to know. However, no one can predict how long a labour will last. Research does show that the average first-baby labour lasts around 12 hours, while further babies are often quicker. But 2% of women experience a ‘precipitate labour’ – where labour is extremely rapid and lasts less than two hours from first contraction twinge to giving birth.
Nobody really knows what causes super-speedy births, but they’re more common among women who’ve already given birth at least once. If you’ve already given birth, your cervix has been stretched, so the uterus may simply know what it’s doing and work a bit too efficiently!
Some women are convinced that their labour was a similar length to their mums’, so it may help to talk to your mum about her experiences.
If labour starts and there’s any doubt whether you’ll make it to hospital in time, don’t even try.
Call your labour ward, and they’ll send the on-call midwife to you, or an ambulance. This may not be ideal but it’s much, much safer than giving birth on the back seat of the car, with your terrified birth partner at the wheel!
If you feel the urge to bear down, or your baby’s head is crowning:
“My partner, Gareth, and I had planned a home birth, so when the contractions started to feel painful I got in the bath and he called our midwife. He was on the phone when I got an overwhelming urge to push, and when he walked back into the room I was clutching Ethan to my chest. I don’t know who was the most shocked!”
Katie, 26, mum to Ethan, 5 weeks
“My second child, Beatrice, was born in 38 minutes, so I was worried that I wouldn’t get to hospital with my third. Our midwives even told my partner how to deliver!
Try not to panic and if you feel you won’t make it to the hospital, stay put and ring for help.
Anne Richley, midwife
Pippa, 31, mum to Henry, 3, Beatrice, 2 and George, 10 months
“I woke up in the night feeling like I’d eaten something dodgy, and suddenly I could feel the baby coming. I got down on the bathroom floor, shouting for my partner, Rob. He called an ambulance, but as he was giving our address, Emily was born. The paramedic told me his paperwork took longer than my labour!”
Julie, 32, mum to Josh, 3, and Emily, 4 months
“My labour lasted an hour. I’d planned on listening to music, lighting candles and having my mum film the birth, but it all happened so quickly. Luckily my mum was staying with me, but I kept thinking about how awful it would have been if I’d been on my own.”
Hetal, 19, mum to Priti, 8 weeks
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