The end of pregnancy comes when labor finally starts. But…what happens in those last weeks when it doesn’t? For days…and weeks…! Most women are ready to be done by the time they hit 32 – 34 weeks, and they’re just counting the days until they are full term (37 weeks). And many women think, or at least hope, that their babies will come soon after that. But unfortunately, women often don’t deliver until 39, 40, 41, 42 weeks! A rare few (in home birth) even later than that!
It can be agonizing to wait, especially when everyone around you is saying, “Are you still pregnant?!” What’s an exhausted, very ready pregnant woman to do?
Prepare Yourself Now
If you haven’t done some basic preparation yet, it’s time. Make sure you’ve done the following things (if you’re going to):
- Pack your suitcase (it might be a good idea to pack a small one in case of hospital transfer, if you’re planning a home birth)
- Fill your freezer with meals for postpartum
- Decorate your baby’s room
- Make your pregnancy scrapbook
- Wash and put away your baby’s clothes (and diapers)
- Pull out and wash your loose-fitting non-pregnancy clothes
- Get a pregnancy massage (or five)
- Have a last pre-birth date with your husband
- Have a last girl’s night out
- Read up (again) on breastfeeding and parenting a newborn
There are lots of things to do to keep yourself from going crazy in those last days and weeks! Keeping yourself occupied with “life” instead of sitting around and hoping the baby just comes already will help you from feeling quite so crazy. Remember that many first-time moms do carry to 41 weeks, so prepare yourself for the possibility now. Expect it, so that if your baby does come early it’s a fun surprise (rather than feeling aggravated every day the baby doesn’t show).
Have Fun with Natural “Labor Starters”
These are only safe if you are at least 37 weeks, and waiting until 39 is even a better idea! But since they’re generally only effective if your baby’s ready to be born, there’s no harm in trying. Right? (I tried them all — well, not the last two — on Jan. 25th, 2008, at 39 weeks…I was desperate. Bekah was born the next day. I really don’t think these had anything to do with it, I think I felt desperate because she was about to come anyway, but who knows.)
- Eat fresh pineapple or papaya
- Go for a long walk
- Drink lots of red raspberry leaf tea
- Have sex
- Try nipple stimulation
- Eat fresh basil
- Use black cohosh (only under the care of a medical professional!!)
- Drink castor oil (best under a medical professional…this can be nasty)
You certainly can’t go wrong with the first few, though. 🙂
Annoying But Well-Meaning Friends
Your friends and family are concerned for you. Especially because in our society, a “due date” is often seen as a “best before” date, and women who reach (or exceed) their due dates with no baby are treated like a ticking time bomb. That’s ridiculous, of course; pregnancies easily vary from 38 – 42 weeks, and can be 36 – 52 weeks (yes really)…and that’s assuming you even got your dates right in the first place!
So while your due date is no big deal, you and everyone around you feel like it is. Often, women who are overdue have people calling them or sending them messages every day, saying, “Where is that baby? Have you had the baby yet? Why haven’t you had the baby?! When are you going to induce?” Especially for a woman who is not planning to induce, this can get annoying. Of course, for any women (who is very well aware that she is still pregnant), this can be annoying!
If you’re struggling, turn your phone off and ignore your emails. Let the people you truly care about (like your mom and your best friend) know that things are fine, but you’re tired of all the questions. Ask friends who “get it” (maybe they’ve gone overdue themselves) to come entertain you, and talk about anything except the fact that your baby isn’t here yet.
Remember, this, too, shall pass. Before long, your baby will be in your arms, and these last, uncomfortable weeks of pregnancy will be only a memory. And a rather fond one, at that. You know…once you’re back to normal. 🙂