If you’re not familiar with the term precipitous labor, it basically means a labor that lasts less than 3 hours from the start of the first contraction until the baby is born.
It is sometimes referred to as a precipitate birth or delivery, rapid labor, fast labor or a plain, old speedy delivery!
Many women experience a precipitous labor for their second or subsequent deliveries, but having one with a first child is pretty rare (like 3% rare!)
While many women who have NOT experienced a precipitous labor might think this sounds like a blessing, it’s not all it’s chalked up to be. For more information on that, you can read my post Precipitous Labor: The Traumatic Truth About a Speedy Delivery.
But in this post, I’m going to focus on recovering from a precipitous labor.
*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
Recovering from a precipitous labor is…
That’s right, a fast labor usually means a fast recovery as well. But don’t start hating on us precipitous laborers just yet…
While laboring quickly generally means less physical trauma and fatigue, it’s not without it’s own set of dangers as well.
Example 1: Tearing
The whole point of moving slowly through the different phases of labor is to help our bodies stretch and prepare for the giant watermelon we’re about to push out of it.
But with a precipitous labor, our body has less time to warm up for the big push and can result in some pretty bad tearing. Usually there isn’t time (or need) for an episiotomy, so the degree and direction of tearing can be unpredictable.
Stitches down below make for a very uncomfortable postpartum recovery period. There are several different home remedies available, but ice will become your best friend.
Here’s a quick and easy tutorial from Swaddles n’ Bottles for DIY “padsicles“ to help reduce swelling and pain.
Example 2: Overdoing it
We’re all supermoms and the faster we can get out of bed after giving birth and back to our regular routine – the stronger we are, right?
While we may feel GREAT immediately after a 3 hour (or less) labor, it doesn’t mean that our bodies have completely healed. The first few hours, days, even weeks after giving birth are essential to the healing process and should never be rushed.
There are several parts of the postpartum recovery period that do NOT occur precipitously.
The uterus needs to shrink back down to it’s normal size and that process can take up to 6 weeks or more.
As the uterus contracts back to it’s normal size, some women experience cramping (similar to menstrual cramps), especially while breastfeeding.
However, some women do not feel any cramping or discomfort at all.
Everyone experiences it differently, but for me, it was severely worse than the labor pains itself and got more intense after each delivery.
Whether you feel it or not, the uterus is still contracting and will need plenty of time to shrink back down.
Skin to Skin Contact
Stay in bed with that baby!
It might be tempting to get up and do things because you feel great but the skin to skin contact in the first 36-48 hours is essential to bonding and breastfeeding success!
Regardless of where you spend those first few hours after birth, whether its a hospital or birth center or in your own home, just stay in the bed and hold that baby for as long as you can.
Roughly 24 hours after giving birth to my second child, I experienced something I had NEVER experienced before in my entire life – high blood pressure.
I had resumed all my normal activities less than 12 hours after giving birth to her and because of that, my body didn’t have time to heal. In addition to the high blood pressure, I developed a fever, severe headache, nausea, swollen hands and feet, blurred vision and dizzy spells.
It’s called postpartum preeclampsia and it’s rare for women who did not experience preeclampsia while pregnant. Thankfully, some rest helped my blood pressure regulate and I didn’t develop any further complications or need medication but it can become quite serious if left untreated.
The Baby Blues
Those hormones will be in full swing after giving birth. For months your body has been working hard to maintain two humans and now it has to adjust back down to one. The baby blues affect nearly 80% of all mothers postpartum, so it’s something to prepare for after giving birth, whether or not you’ve had a precipitous labor.
Hormonal imbalances, unfortunately, don’t often work themselves out precipitously…
Ahhhh… my favorite topic. Let me be clear when I say that there is no known link between precipitous labor and postpartum depression. Many believe that a traumatic labor can lead to postpartum depression but precipitous labor is not always a traumatic experience. In fact, many women who have one really DO feel lucky and blessed that they were spared a long labor and delivery.
However, since postpartum depression seems to have no pattern whatsoever of who it chooses as it’s victims, it’s best to be prepared.
In my own, personal postpartum depression story, I talk about how I rushed through my recovery with my second child and eventually wound up getting postpartum depression. I can’t say for certain that it had anything at all to do with my mental state, but I DO regret rushing my postpartum recovery period.
Everything happens so quickly when it comes to having kids.
There are moments and memories that we can hold onto and savor each second of – and there are some that we have no control over. While we may not be able to choose whether or not we have a precipitous labor, we CAN choose not to rush our recovery.