You’ve reached your estimated date of delivery. Now what?
Last fall, one of my clients reached out about waiting. This was her third pregnancy, but she had already delivered by this point during her previous pregnancies. She stated she didn’t understand why this time was different. She understood there wasn’t a rush; however, there was a fear about the possibility of needing medical intervention to get the ball rolling.
Pregnancy is a process. While not everyone’s experiences are the same, I think most women would agree they learned something about themselves during their own journeys.
Some women are pleasantly surprised to find they go into labor unexpectedly days or weeks before the BIG EDD! Others of us know, from day one, that is not likely to happen for us, due to our own previous experiences or a family history of holding onto those babies for days or weeks longer!
From my own experience, I understand completely! During my third pregnancy, I was working a corporate job and couldn’t wait for the day after my due date to arrive so that when I was asked again “When are you due?” I could smile and respond “Yesterday,” just to see the looks on people’s faces. Priceless. Interestingly, most people aren’t used to that response, especially in work environments, for numerous reason (scheduled deliveries, people taking leave at or prior to that time, etc…).
Perhaps you are one of the frustrated momma’s who went into labor weeks early with your first, and now you are shocked and beside yourself for going past that special date. I believe this is the most frustrating position, because you could literally be pregnant a month longer than your previous experience! All I can say is, I’m so sorry! I do speak with those clients up front and throughout their pregnancy about this possibility, to help to keep the angst down as much as possible.
Let’s say you find yourself here, 40 weeks on the dot, without any reportable signs or symptoms of impending labor…now what?!?!
I like to take a 3 step approach, in order to address your mental outlook, your emotions and your physical needs.
First, most people like to have a plan in place. It helps them feel prepared and a little more in control. I know there is very little that can be controlled in life, let alone in pregnancy, but for myself I find that it helps to do what I can to help as much as I can. So, I review what things look like now that we’ve reached 40 weeks. For some, it may mean prenatal visits two times a week instead of weekly, though for others that doesn’t happen until 41 weeks. I recommend clients have a BPP (biophysical profile) done at 41 weeks. (Read about this in an upcoming post). We discuss a general overview of what to expect at those appointments, and any steps that can be taken between appointments to help ripen the cervix (supplements/activities). I also explain what happens if in fact we make it to 42 weeks, and the process of a medical induction. Personally, I feel exploring the upcoming two weeks at that time is more assuring because then my clients know what to expect. I also feel that discussing it all minimizes the likelihood of needing to go that far, versus not talking about it and everyone being frustrated, upset or confused if indeed we end up there. I educate in order to empower.
Second, I address the emotional component. It’s one thing to know in your head logically what is happening and what is to come, but that doesn’t address your feelings about it. This is a bit more difficult to quantify, because this is when my relationship with my clients comes more into play. One client may have fears about the “what ifs,” another may be anxious, while yet another may be actually angry about the wait. There are LOTS of emotions that come out in pregnancy and typically if you don’t see it early, you see it towards the later part.
I was taught and like to use the analogy about a piece of fruit. Fruit is best when it is ripe, and sometimes it feels as though that will come any day, and sometimes you keep checking back only to have to wait a little longer. Then, you have this window of time where you can enjoy the fruit at its peak, when it is at its best! If you happen to go past this time, the fruit turns rotten. While for fruit purposes you’d throw it out because it wouldn’t be so pleasant to enjoy it, when you turn the analogy back to an expectant mom who has crossed this ideal window emotionally in her pregnancy, this is the time she realizes she is ready and she’s willing to do anything (Endure Labor!!) to get this baby out! Why does this help? Because sometimes emotionally we are holding on a bit, perhaps fearful of labor, of pain or of the unknown.
Separately, I encourage my clients and build them up, ideally so that they leave with hope and uplifted spirit. I also encourage a date night, no matter when the last date night had been, so that they can get some uninterrupted time with their partner. This connection shouldn’t be taken for granted. Oftentimes, after a date day, labor is just around the corner. This is good for SO many reasons, but mostly the communication that takes place helps to unlock some things that were meant to be talked out before baby comes.
Lastly, we address your physical needs. Again, this is tailored to each client, but may include suggestions of getting some “you time,” a night out with friends or time alone to take a long bath or read. Overall, my recommendation is to have something planned each day. I’m not talking something big and crazy, I’m just talking one appointment to set for yourself – it could literally be a reminder on your phone to have lunch with a friend, not necessarily a massage appointment, but that works too!!!
With my first pregnancy, my mom scheduled a hair appointment on my due date, feeling pretty certain I would need the distraction. While I was a little bummed to still not have my baby in my arms, the appointment gave me something to look forward too and I felt really good about myself afterwards! The idea here is to have something to look forward to each day, even if it’s knocking another item off your “to-do” list that you wouldn’t mind cancelling, if in fact you were to go into labor.
Outdoor activities or anything out of the house is ideal since it may be a little while before you are venturing out after baby arrives. I am VERY careful to stress balance at this stage, which is why I recommend just the one thing or appointment a day. Balancing activity and rest towards the end of your pregnancy is key in setting yourself up for being as well-nourished and rested as possible before going into labor. Remember, it could happen any day and while we are trying to shift your focus temporarily from that, it is a reality that you need to be prepared for.
On average, first time moms go into labor 10 days following their expected date of delivery, or 41.3 weeks! Remind yourself of that and take the above suggestions and adapt them to make them work best for you.