So, your long anticipated due date is fast approaching and still no signs of baby?
If this is your first baby, take a deep breath. Likely, you have everything ready, the baby clothes are washed and folded, the “equipment” is all set up and there has been a car seat in your back seat for weeks. It can become overwhelming, I know, so remember to take that breath. When I sit down with first time families in the last few weeks of pregnancy, I encourage them to really spend this time focusing on each other, soak each other up and get in some good couple-bonding moments. When this new person enters your family, your world will forever be changed and your relationship will never be exactly the same again. Now, don’t worry, this doesn’t mean doom and gloom, this means that a new layer will added. This new layer will be sweet, precious and beautiful. It will also be exhausting and messy. You will no longer be just a couple but also parents which means that for quite some time you will not be able to be selfish about each other and your time together. Enjoy these last few weeks, go on dates, do things that you don’t or can’t do with a newborn. For example, that fancy restaurant you love but is not kid friendly.
Don’t worry you will be able to go on dates again and enjoy private time but it will be a little while so put some warm fuzzy memories in the bank.
If this is not your first baby, take a deep breath. Open your eyes and look around, capture these moments of life before the new baby. Each time a new baby is added, the entire family structure adapts and changes with the expansion. Children are powerfully and intimately affected by the addition of new siblings. Ultimately, having a sister(s) and/or a brother(s) is wonderful and adds strength to the family ties; weaving the threads tighter, but now into a different tapestry.
Enjoy the moments and the pattern of the current fabric.
So, your due date has come and gone and you’re still pregnant, now what?
It is difficult to be this pregnant; our bodies are uncomfortable and everything feels over crowded, sleep is hard to come by, your feet and ankles are likely swollen and everyone is always asking if you’ve had the baby yet. Again, I will repeat the mantra; remember to breath (are you noticing a pattern yet?). It is ok the have a polite conversation with friends and family about being mindful when checking in and not overwhelming you.
And, most importantly remember this: if you and your pregnancy have been healthy, there is no problem to go past your due date.
In fact, if this is your first baby it is normal. You are not “postdates” until 42 weeks, technically the weeks 40-41 and 6 days are still considered term. Your baby is the best person to determine the optimal time for labor to start. Is this easy? No. Does it require gobs of patience and lots of support from your support system? Yes.
Can you be proactive about not becoming truly Post-Dates or going past 42 weeks?
Sure, there are many things to try and do in order to encourage your sweet baby to come before passing the 42-week mark. Here are some ideas:
- Be active throughout your pregnancy, daily walking and exercise help to prepare your body for the hard work of birth and can help to keep your baby in a good position.
- Speaking of good fetal positioning, check out the Spinning Babies website for some great daily exercises to practice that may help.
- Regular acupuncture and/or chiropractic care can be beneficial, both for body and mind.
- Ina May Gaskin, the mother of modern American homebirth midwifery, has a saying, “the best way to get the baby out is how they got in there.” Meaning regular sex in the third trimester can be beneficial. Semen is full of prostaglandins that can help to soften the cervix and orgasms cause a release of oxytocin that can help to get things going as well. If you have been advised by your care provider against sexual intercourse for some reason, please continue to follow their advice.
- Red Raspberry Leaf is a mild, safe herb to use in pregnancy in the form of tea. It helps to tonify or strengthen the uterus so that when labor starts it will be well nourished for the work. Adding in a cup a day is a lovely way to create a daily self-care routine of sitting to relax.
- Many moons ago, it seems in another lifetime all together, I was in my early 20’s, living and studying as an artist. The school I attended was located in the Desert of Southern California. I discovered there, one of my favorite food treats of all time; Date Shakes! These are delicious and these many years later, I will still wake some mornings with a craving for one. Growing up in the Great Plains of Kansas, I had no exposure to palm trees or the delicious fruit they produce in the form of dates. It was a joy to discover them. Now, I have come to appreciate the incredible nutritional value that is packed into these wrinkly nuggets and I eat them on their own, minus the ice cream except as an occasional treat of course. Dates are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium, fiber and vitamin B-6. On the surface, they do have a high sugar content, however, when eaten in the whole food form this is not concerning and studies have shown that dates do not raise blood sugar levels and are actually a great low glycemic food. You can check out this concise article about some of the overall health benefits of dates. Recently, there has been even better news about the consumption of dates! Researchers in Jordan have discovered that women who regularly ate dates during the last four weeks of pregnancy experienced many benefits, including; higher rates of intact membranes and spontaneous labor as well as requiring less augmentation of labor with synthetic oxytocin and had shorter latent labor phase. You can read the abstract here.
To wrap it all up; remember to breath, take care of yourself, apply lots of patience and enjoy the moments in the now. One thing I can promise you is that you will not be pregnant forever!
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Aubre Tompkins is a Certified Nurse Midwife and the Clinical Director of Mountain Midwifery Center in Englewood, CO. She is a passionate supporter and defender of Physiologic Birth, ensuring choice for families and providing care to families in all the shapes and sizes that they come. She is also committed to growing the profession of midwifery both locally and abroad; this passion is fulfilled as both a preceptor to student midwives and as a Board member of Midwife International. On a personal note, Aubre has a fantastic husband and three precocious children that keep her busy at home.
You can also learn more about her birth center atwww.mountainmidwifery.com.