The Long Last Weeks of Pregnancy

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Dear Mama waiting on your baby,

You aren’t going to be pregnant forever. Really, I promise. It can feel that way when there is no comfortable sleeping position, ankles and feet are swollen, your biggest maternity clothes are feeling tight, and you wake up each morning realizing you didn’t go into labor in the night.

Supposedly the longest pregnancy was Beulah Hunter who was overdue by about three months — but it was in 1945 and could have had polycystic ovarian syndrome or another undiagnosed medical condition affecting her last menstrual period. At any rate going that far past your estimated due date is not an option with modern obstetrics and midwifery care. This post is not about when it is appropriate to induce for post dates because that information is best determined by a variety of factors between you and your provider. In recent years, thankfully, early elective inductions have dropped dramatically as more and more is understood how important it is for babies to continue developing in the womb and not be rushed out by a hasty eviction.

To me, I find it rather magical that we still do not understand exactly what begins spontaneous labor. To a woman who has been watching and waiting for not only several months but especially from 37 weeks on it might not seem so magical but think about it. Unless there is a medical need to induce your body will go into labor at some point. There are some extremely rare conditions where a woman does not and intervention is required or chosen but for the most of us we are simply playing a waiting game. To wake up with our membranes released or to have those pesky sporadic contractions turn into a consistent labor pattern. To surrender to the experience in a world where we are scheduled every waking moment.

As a doula I am often asked about natural inductions or ways to get things moving. That is a whole other blog post I wrote about here but essentially I do not believe most labor starters work unless a woman was ready to go into labor anyway. Beyond that I want to impart a trust in a woman’s body. (Yes, I know there are valid reasons to induce so no need to send messages or comments being offended that somehow my post is talking about your own unique  induction circumstances. I am discussing normal pregnancies and labors without medical considerations). Trust in a timing we do not understand and an emotional acceptance that pregnancy, birth, and parenting have a component of surrender. We cannot will our uterus to contract but we can believe in it’s strength and power. I wish I could impart to all of my clients the knowledge that the women who have gone before you also felt tired, discouraged, impatient and as if they could not wait another day to meet their baby. And then the call comes. It might be at 4 a.m. that the membranes have released. It might be at 9 p.m. that contractions have not only begun but are getting stronger and more intense. It might be that after a visit with their provider there is some medical concern and some type of induction is recommended. All those women have waited and gone on to have their babies. The last few weeks are quickly forgotten as you realize your baby has been in your arms for a few hours that turn into days and weeks. It becomes your story and your baby’s story of how he or she arrived into the world.

Until then you are staring at a blank page waiting for the details of the story. I recommend having some positive affirmations and activities while you are waiting for the story and baby to emerge.

 

  • My baby is comfortable and safe in my womb
  • Labor will begin on its own when the time is right
  • Birth is a process that can span days or even weeks as my body prepares for active labor
  • The waiting period is a good time to finalize my preparations
  • I will take this time to pamper myself and rest
  • Journaling each day will provide me with a record of this special time
  • Belly casts are special mementos
  • Maternity photos will be treasured for a lifetime
  • Making lists for people who offer to help 
  • Read books and play music for your baby
  • Get a prenatal massage

As stated, no woman is pregnant forever. All the mamas who have been wondering and waiting turn into mamas wondering how their baby turned a week old, a month old, a year old. Very soon you will have your baby in your arms and the time will start flying by. Hang in there!

All Rights Reserved 2014, Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula

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