Monday, July 20, 2009

Prodromal Precipitous Birth

Gloria Lemay has a post regarding a prodromal precipitous birth today. Though neither word is used in her post, they are both good descriptions of what went on. (Notice the mom mentioning she's been "doing this for weeks," then promptly giving birth within an hour of assuring Gloria that she's not having the baby.)

"What's that," You say? Can that be possible for the same birth to be described as both unusually long (prodromal) and very short (precipitous)? Yes! I've had two of them. My midwife charts my labors as two hours long, since for the births she has attended, that is when I have called her to come--when things have gotten so intense there is NO DOUBT we are not turning back this time: the baby is coming today. If I had more textbook labors (where close, strong, long and regular contractions didn't show up until birth day), I would be calling her much sooner.
The fact is that oftentimes in prodromal labor, a woman has been doing what she considers "the same thing" for so long that she may not realize the subtle changes (or there may not be any to notice) that have kicked her into active labor (not to mention that active labor can also stall and re-start hours and days later). It is in the nature of some prodromal births (where there is gradual and very subtle change) to not realize how close one is to delivery. This is the ultimate "frog in the pot of water" labor. By the time she realizes she really is having this baby, she's pretty much done.

If this interests and intrigues you, here's another post from another midwife in which she uses the term "precipitous" to describe one woman's 25-hour labor. It may be unusual, but this kind of labor does happen!