Waiting for Baby

Crib with baby toys

In prenatal yoga class last week,  we had 2 women at 41+ weeks, all anxiously waiting for baby to arrive.  This lead to an in-depth discussion about due dates and induction techniques. I have a personal experience with being past my EDD (estimated date of delivery or estimated due date).   My first daughter was born 10 days past her EDD and I had tried many natural induction techniques. I am a firm believer that while we can try all manner of things to get the body to move it along, baby will come when baby is ready.  I also believe we shouldn’t force baby out too soon unless it’s medically necessary  –  such as high risk pregnancy, at/past 42 weeks and signs of placenta degrading or amniotic fluid dropping, or signs that baby is in distress during fetal heart rate monitoring (i.e. non-stress tests).

Techniques I tried to naturally induce:

  • eating spicy foods – bowls of pho with lots of sriracha
  • Having sex to encourage the body to relax and semen to soften/ripen the cervix
  • Walking
  • Squatting
  • Prenatal Yoga
  • Bouncing and rolling hips on a large exercise ball
  • Sweeping of the membranes with my OB at both 40 weeks and 41 weeks
  • Eating large quantities of pineapple daily – blended into a smoothie with greek yogurt, mango, and spinach
  • Induction acupuncture weekly starting at week 36 all the way thru week 41
  • Staying mentally relaxed about being “overdue” as much as possible to reduce tension in my body and encourage the pelvic floor to soften and open

After all those things, I was still 10 days past my due date.  The only reason I was stressed during the “overdue” portion of my pregnancy was because I was afraid of medical induction.  I wanted to avoid any medical intervention with my labor if possible, and I wanted her to pick her own birthday.  I was concerned about Pitocin for two reasons. First I was worried about it making my labor pain more intense and potentially leading to the need/want of an epidural or necessity of a caesarian section.  Second, I was concerned about pitocin blocking the release of my natural oxytocin, which could affect bonding between my newborn daughter and myself.

Fortunately I ultimately avoided the induction that was scheduled for the night after I gave birth to Moira.

At 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant I attended my usual Sunday prenatal yoga class and there I voiced my fear of induction.  Luckily my teacher is experienced with pregnancy, a childbirth educator, and a doula, so she eased my fears by telling the class more about medical induction. She suggested to start the drip at the lowest possible setting and increase slowly.  As long as my water wasn’t broken, the labor could progress as slowly as possible and maybe my body would kick in and take over so the need for a large amount of Pitocin wouldn’t be necessary. It was comforting to know that I was empowered to make a choice regarding the dose and that only a little Pitocin might be needed.

Even more amazing was at this very class I was feeling my baby belly and noticed it turn rock hard, like a basketball, and then relax (this was new to me as I had not experienced any Braxton Hicks).  I started watching the clock and noticed this was happening at about 20 mins apart, I was so excited that something was happening!  The time between them was getting shorter as the day wore on.  This meant I was in the first stage of labor and baby would hopefully come before my scheduled induction. My OB only wanted me to go to 41+6, so the plan was to go in Wednesday evening to get cervidil to soften and ripen the cervix overnight, and then the Pitocin drip would start the following morning.

The next day I saw both my OB and the maternal fetal medicine doctor. My OB did a second membrane sweep.  I was seeing the MFM doc weekly now for ultrasounds to check amniotic fluid levels and non-stress tests to monitor baby’s heart rate and movement.  The MFM doctor confirmed with me on the non-stress test read out that I was indeed having regular contractions. At that stage they were every 8 minutes and he said that he did not think I would make it to my induction 2 days away.  I went into active labor at 10PM that night, got to the hospital around 2:30AM, and birthed my daughter just before 6AM.

Waiting for baby to arrive

I totally understand how it’s emotionally draining and physically exhausting to be waiting for baby to arrive towards the end, especially when you are fixated on the EDD. Did you know that only 4-5% of babies spontaneously arrive on their due date?   I think it’s better to think of your “due date” as a range – from 37 weeks to 42 weeks.  We aren’t technically overdue until past the 42 week mark, but modern medicine and society has changed our mindsets to focus on the 40 number and we start to panic when we pass that date.  If we mentally prepare ourselves for 42 weeks, then going past 40 weeks would not be a cause of frustration or concern.

Even though the whole time I was pregnant I knew to focus on the 4 week date range instead of my EDD of September 10, I still felt the frustration of wondering when she was coming.

I often joked about having a full grown 18 year old human still living in my body because she didn’t want to come out.  Mentally, I tried my best to look at my “overdueness” as just more days of my maternity leave.  I was grateful for the time to sleep 12 hours a night and to do whatever I pleased during the day before baby was actually here and demanding ALL of my attention.

Relaxation techniques to use when you are over being pregnant and close to or beyond your “due date”

  • Massage from partner/supportive friend or professional – especially feet because this may stimulate labor and just feels darn good after walking around with all that extra baby weight
  • Guided meditation – download a relaxation app such as Calm or Headspace and try some of the free short (10-15 minute) meditations that don’t require a membership fee. Use as often as needed (multiple times a day, every day, as you lie down to rest) to keep you relaxed and grounded.  I find that guided meditation is more helpful when you are really stressed or anxious versus traditional non-guided meditation
  • Warm baths with Epsom and aromatherapy that you enjoy (if scents like lavender, etc don’t bother your already hyper-sensitive mama nose)
  • Walks in nature
  • Love making – only if you feel up for it. If the thought of this stresses you out due to logistics with baby bump, fatigue, or lack of feeling sexy, then don’t force it.
  • Prenatal Yoga (duh) – even if the class leans more active, being in a room with other mamas can really feel supportive and give you extra encouragement to trust in your body and your baby. It can help to remember that even if your labor requires medical intervention, you and baby will be OK. Hearing other moms talk about their experiences if they were induced or were “overdue” can also help calm anxiety.
  • Floating in a pool – ah such sweet relief to have the baby weight taken off of your spine when in the water
  • Pedicure – and enjoy how extra nice they are to you because you clearly are SUPER pregnant
  • Read a book NOT about labor and delivery/newborn care/breastfeeding – unless you are feeling unprepared and reading more about any of these topics will help you to feel better about your upcoming transition into motherhood.
  • Take a nap! Many many naps!

Share below any other relaxation techniques while waiting for baby or if you have an experience with being past your EDD.  Other mamas and I would love to hear from you!

 

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2 Responses to “Waiting for Baby”

  • My husband helped me get my mind off things by playing a lot of board games with me! He also fielded the unending phone calls and texts coming from our families who were also very anxious for baby to arrive.

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