Your due date has come and gone, and you are madly scouring the internet and asking all your experienced mom friends , " what can I do to bring on this birth and get this baby out?!”
You’re inevitably going to find a whole lot of interesting tips:
Eat pineapple, lots of it
Drink raspberry leaf tea
Have sex (ugh, really?)
Climb a big hill
Scale the stairs backwards…Okay, maybe not. But you get the idea.
We're not here to add to this list, or speak to the effectiveness of any given approach. We know that, while labour seems to have a timeline of it's own despite our efforts, sometimes doing *something* feels better than simply waiting.
*If you do choose try some of the natural induction methods available, decide carefully and have a talk with your care provider about it in advance.*
What we really want to talk about is what we think matters most:
How are you?
How is all of this making you feel?
Are your efforts helping, or is the stress of encouraging labour to begin wearing you thin?
The crux of this waiting game is your emotional state and well being, and the waiting game can be mentally exhausting.
You're probably feeling like a watched pot that's struggling to reach a simmer, and your own pervasive thoughts and the comments of complete strangers, are making you feel like you’ll never reach a boil. Is this baby ever coming? It seems unlikely.
But here's the thing:
The suggestion of a ‘Due date’ is misleading, and one that can make you feel like you've hit an expiration as soon as the illusive 'day' has come and gone. The reality is, babies arrive on their due date about 4% of the time. Despite our language around expected arrival times (early, late, or on-time), our body and our baby have about a month-long ETA, and they don't take our feelings into consideration. It can be emotionally taxing to feel like things are going longer than they should; you're ready to have your body back, but it's just not happening in the timing you hoped for. The disappointment is real.
Our experience has shown us that the most important part of waiting and preparing for birth is maintaining your mental stamina and emotional well being. When you are 40+ weeks pregnant this can become difficult, and you may feel like all the gusto you had for giving birth is slipping away. This is so important to recognize if it is happening to you, and we know the best remedy to pulling your mind out of the rut you've found yourself in, is focusing on caring for yourself.
You need it, you deserve it and it will help more than you could imagine.
Things you can do for yourself:
- Put this list somewhere you will see it, often (probably the bathroom, because you're peeing 12 million times a day, right?)
- Rest!!! Even if you cannot sleep, rest your body and mind
- Take a long bath: bubbles, music, dim lights and something to sip.
- Get a massage (we know a great RMT!)
- Gentle walks somewhere relaxing
- Cry, if that is what you need to do; let it out, but then do something nice for yourself after
- Talk with your doula
- Call a friend, one that will not offer you any advice but someone who will get right down there with you and just hear you
- Spend some time feeling all the positive sensations of being pregnant and soak in the moment, this will be a memory before you know it.
- Take a video of your belly movements to have something to remember of these days where you were trying so hard to be patient
- Let go of every "haven't had that baby yet?" comment that's slung your way. Better yet? Come up with a great line to throw right back! Sometimes being a bit cheeky is all you need to let it roll off your back.
- Soak your feet
- Binge watch that TV series you've been meaning to get through
- Float in a pool
- If you have other kids, find some time for some special one-on-one
- Ask people for what you need right now and prioritize yourself
- Most of all, welcome all the love and support of those around you; do whatever it takes to connect with someone who will give this to you
Things others can do for you :
- Avoid making that clock tick any louder; try and be patient, too
- Help her find ways to occupy her time (hint: the spa, a pedicure, something with feet up, eyes closed)
- Dote on and care for her, do everything you can to make her feel loved and supported
- Offer back, head, and foot massages
- If there are any other kids in the family, offer to take them out to the park or an afternoon at the beach
- Make her a cup of tea; sometimes tea is all you need
- Prepare her nourishing meals
- Help her get comfy in bed at night, encourage naps
- Hold her and hug her often
- Speak encouraging words with meaning
- Listen to her, make space for her to talk about how she's feeling
As long and drawn out as this time may feel right now, it will soon pass and become a memory and the lead up to the story of how you met your baby. Try to enjoy each day that passes as one more day to care for yourself before you add the busyness of your new bundle.