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05th Apr 2019

These are the 3 signs you might have a shorter labour

Noted so.

Gillian Fitzpatrick

Labour: it’s a bit of a lottery really.

On my first baby it was definitely challenging – but by the time I got to No.2 two-and-a-half years later it was all that bit easier.

Many women say the same, with subsequent babies tending to arrive into the world with less drama than their older siblings. Cork University Hospital states: “The length of the first stage of labour can be different for every woman.

“If it is your first labour, the time from the start of labour to full dilation of the cervix (10 cm) is usually six – 12 hours. If it’s not your first labour, the time is usually shorter.”

The HSE reminds us, however: “Everyone’s labour is different, and pinpointing when it begins is not always clear. It’s more of a process than a single event, when a number of changes in your body work together to help you give birth.”

Still, whether you’re on your first, second, or beyond, there are certainly signs that suggest you’re likely to have a quicker labour (FYI, medically-speaking, a labour lasting three hours or less is called a ‘precipitate delivery’).

Here’s what to consider:

1) Genetics

If your mum, sisters, and aunt had shorter, more straightforward labours – then it’s likely that you will too. It all ultimately comes down to pelvic shape as well as the size of the babies you’re delivering. Your partner’s family history might play a part too, so ask him about his mum and his granny (or ask them directly yourself!) to get a better idea about what you could be in store for.

2) Age

It’s just a fact that if you’re younger, fitter, and healthier – then your labour is more likely to be faster and more straightforward. Indeed, one study published in the Journal Of Clinical Medicine Research found that teenagers have the quickest births. If you’re having children later in life, or if you’re overweight or have an underlying health condition, then statistically you’re more likely to need a bit of help – including the likes of an emergency cesarean.

3) Keeping it natural

Spontaneous vaginal births with no pain relief tend to be the quickest. And try to stay active for as long as possible when you do go into labour – pottering around at home, gentle stretching and breathing exercises, or taking a bath are better than lying on a hospital bed. In general, wait until your contractions are three-to-four minutes apart and lasting for 45 seconds to a minute before heading into the labour ward.