I Had a Baby in an Hour (But Please Don’t Call Me Lucky)

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Historically I am a fast birther.

With my first I was induced before my guess date, and I still only labored for 9 hours. As a first-time mom, that’s pretty quick. With my second I woke up to contractions and had a baby in my arms in 4 hours. My third? An hour flat from asleep to baby.

My first labor wasn’t spontaneous so I was fairly prepared for it. My second, however, was utterly terrifying. I’ve heard it said before of quick labors that those mothers do as much work as is done in a 20-hour labor, they just squeeze it all into minutes instead of hours. I can attest, that is entirely true. I often liken it to boarding a crazy train and holding on for dear life.

Fast labors can be scary, especially if you aren’t expecting it. When people heard my birth story they often called me “lucky” because my labor was so short. I sure didn’t feel lucky. I felt small. My birth was still absolutely beautiful and afterward there was a gorgeous, blissful birth high. But during? During I was scared.

Along with feeling scared, women with quick deliveries often feel guilt. They hear, “Oh, you had it so easy!” In reality, they honestly may not feel that way but others telling them they should can leave them feeling alienated, alone and upset. They may feel they can’t be upset and suppress those emotions instead of processing them.

Mothers who have fast labors may also experience a mourning of the loss of their expectations or plans for a long labor. Often, we see gorgeous videos of mothers laboring at home in different positions, aided by partners, friends, doulas and midwives. When baby comes in an hour, there aren’t many different positions you can fit into your laboring. All thoughts of connecting with your partner through early labor are completely dashed. That can be hard.

The bottom line is this: when you make a judgement about a mother’s labor, no matter how long it was, you’re telling her how you think she should feel. Some women have 4 hour labors and walk away with trauma. Some women have 30 hour labors and enjoy the entire experience.

I hear a lot of birth stories and the key to listening to birth stories is to ask open-ended questions and (this is a big one) listen. Listen to what she’s saying. Instead of, “That sounds scary!” ask, “How did you feel at that point?” It makes a huge difference.

I had a baby in 1 hour. Please don’t call me “lucky.”

Mallory Shannon is a birth and postpartum doula in the Kansas City Metro area, wife and mother of two. She had every intent to leave until she and her husband moved their family downtown and fell in love with the city and the culture. Self-professed coffee addict and foodie, she enjoys all that the Kansas City food and coffee scene has to offer. When she isn't chasing down her one- and three-year-old, you'll find her hitting the Farmer's market, teaching and providing Kansas City's family centered birth and postpartum doula care. You can follow Northland Doula at www.northlanddoula.com, www.facebook.com/northlanddoula or on Instagram @northlanddoula.