Precipitous Labor: Causes & Complications | Scott Goodwin Law

Precipitous Labor: Causes & Complications

by / Wednesday, 03 May 2023 / Published in Birth Trauma
Crying baby laying on back.

If you’ve ever been in the situation of eagerly awaiting the news that a baby has been born, you know that going through labor often takes a long time. There are multiple stages of labor and each stage can easily take several hours. According to the March of Dimes, the first stage of labor can last between 12 and 19 hours for first-time mothers and closer to 14 hours for those who have given birth before, plus an additional 4 to 8 hours of active labor. But, in some cases, a mother might experience a much faster labor process.

Precipitous labor is when labor happens very quickly and shortly, within three hours of the start of regular contractions. In cases of precipitous labor, contractions start suddenly and continue with little time between contractions. Contractions are also consistently strong and painful rather than gradually building in intensity. 

Causes of Precipitous Labor

It’s not known exactly what causes precipitous labor, but several things are believed to be risk factors, including:

  • A mother being a teenager or in their early 20s at the time of delivery
  • A baby that weighs under 5.5 pounds
  • High maternal blood pressure/preeclampsia
  • Prior history of precipitous labor
  • Placental abruption
  • Having given birth before

Risks & Complications With Precipitous Labor

In addition to being very painful, precipitous labor creates risks for both the mother and the baby. For the mother, there is an increased risk for tearing/lacerations and hemorrhaging, which may require a blood transfusion. There is also a higher risk for retained placenta occurring after delivery, which can potentially be very dangerous and needs to be managed correctly. 

For the baby, precipitous birth can have a higher risk of premature birth and experiencing other complications such as nuchal cords, being in a breech position, and shoulder dystocia. If handled appropriately, negative effects of complications like nuchal cords, shoulder dystocia, and breech positions can be kept to a minimum or even completely eliminated. 

While a precipitous birth can be a very fast-paced event, it’s very important that medical professionals be trained to manage the situation and quickly handle any complications that may come up to minimize risks to both the mother and the baby.

Contact a Michigan Birth Trauma Lawyer

If you or a child was harmed during or shortly after delivery, don’t hesitate to contact a birth trauma lawyer. Even in situations like precipitous labor, where things can move and change very quickly, doctors still have a responsibility to do everything they reasonably can to prevent injuries. Very often, birth trauma cases are also cases of medical malpractice. 

At Scott Goodwin Law, we’re experienced in helping victims of birth trauma and medical malpractice in the state of Michigan. When you meet with us for a free consultation, you’ll be able to get answers to any questions you have about your case and learn more about your legal options. Even if your child is a few years old and you’re only now suspecting that they may have sustained a birth injury, you may still have legal options. Contact us today to get started.