As a midwife, there are certain subjects that come up over and over again while caring for pregnant women. It's pretty predictable that most women will be anxious for pregnancy to end, and to finally be holding that beautiful baby in their arms. This sense of excitement is also part of Mother Nature's plan - it prepares us to take on the experiences of labor and motherhood.
On the other hand, I think women in general don't know the damage they do by indulging in the impatience that can arise as you wait for birth. This impatience is more than ever before reinforced by a culture used to "instant gratification". And we also have a medicalized culture that is all too happy to contribute heavily to the over-all sense of impatience that accompanies an up-coming birth. Oh, you're tired of being pregnant? Your ankles are swollen? We can rescue you! How about a pitocin IV or a little dose of protaglandins,or cytotech? That will take care of your problem! And, if it doesn't, well, aww heck ma'am, we'll just cut a little incision in your uterus and get that baby out before dinner time. That way, you'll be ready for your pedicure on Monday!
I often see postings on Face Book walls from friends wondering "if there is a problem" because the baby hasn't been born yet. This sometimes starts as early as 38 weeks! It's no surprise that these are usually the babies that stay in there for a while. Hey, with friends like that, who needs enemies? It seems as if carrying a pregnancy to term has become unusual.
So, my advice for a more pleasant ending to your pregnancy -- don't set yourself up for all of this impatience. Remember that this is the closest you will ever be to another human being. And this is your precious child that you love so dearly -- why are you so anxious to kick him out?
Starting early in the pregnancy, if there has been any discrepancy in your due dates, chances are that the later one is most accurate. Unless there is a really good reason to up your due date, go with the second, or later, date. ( remember that conversation we had 6 months ago? Yep, your midwife hasn't changed her mind. You might want to take another look at the chart and see what due date we decided on together at that time) Especially if your earlier due date was based on your OBs office ultrasound, and then moved forward based on another ultrasound.
And what exactly is a due date? Basically it's a pain; that's what it is. Your baby could come weeks before or after your "due date". It's best to think of it in terms of a month rather than a day. I would love it if we could just release the idea of a due date.
So, okay, back to my earlier statement that often moms don't know the damage they can do with the big hurry to "get this baby out!"
First of all, I believe that babies are aware. Very aware. Even if you don't care what the baby feels, as moms we know, the more anxious we are for a child to move to the next level, the more hesitant and even clingy the child becomes..no one likes pressure or feeling unwelcome. Sometimes my heart kind of breaks for these babies.
Secondly, have we not heard of "Fight, Flight or Freeze"? If your brain is receiving messages of anxiousness and pressure, the signal tells your body that it may not be a safe time to be born. Strenuous hiking and riding up and down bumpy roads, and jumping on trampolines do not convey peaceful and calming messages to your body. Neither does that relative who keeps telling you to just get on with it. So sit down, relax. Maybe crochet a baby hat or something. And either don't talk to that pushy relative or friend, or tell them not to talk about hurrying things along.
So, really, relax. Most importantly, relax your mind.
Here are some of my suggestions for really enjoying those last days in your pregnancy.
Treat these last days like a honeymoon with your partner. You will never again enjoy the level of uninterrupted togetherness that you can enjoy now. Spontaneity will be a bit of a challenge. You might want to go out to a quiet restaurant that you probably wouldn't take a baby to. Or a picnic. Or give each other a massage. And while you're at it, remember that those "same loving vibes that got the baby in can get the baby out" . Acts of love can trigger the release of oxytocin - even looking into each others eyes, laughing together, telling him what you love about him , will release more oxytocin. What a great way to spend your last days together.
And if you have an older child, do the same kind of thing for her/him. Love on your child- go to the park, or picnic or movie. Give some extra undivided attention - that will be difficult in the coming days.
Getting your mind off of the pressure for a few days can help. Sometimes I recommend going a couple of days without talking about the birth, when, etc.
Some fun distractions might include watching funny movies. Laugh as much as you can.
Do something special for yourself - get a massage, or if you are into it, get an easy new hair do.
Go to lunch with friends who don't have kids. Friends who can talk about their lives and don't need too focus on your pregnancy.
Go out somewhere you love in nature and have a friend or your lover take some pictures of your beautiful belly.
Take a day trip. Around here, I like to suggest Jerome. There's plenty to see as you slowly walk through the shops. At the kaleidoscope store you can just enjoy that image of the opening kaleidoscope. I suggest you spend some time in there. Stroll up and down the sidewalks and window shop or check out the history of the place. Eat lunch. And the windy road home can help reposition the baby while you enjoy the sights and scents of the forest.
Those are just my suggestions. As long as you are enjoying your life, exactly like it is at this moment in time, you'll be fine.
One thing I often notice is that when serving women with several children, the first one came a little "late", next one a little earlier, and from then on before the due dates. I think it's easy to see why. These experienced moms know that there is a lot to do after the baby comes. They want all the time they can get with husband and older siblings. And they like nurturing a baby on the inside. Because they aren't sending signals of pressure and anxiety, the body is free to go into labor whenever mom and baby are ready.
So, enjoy your final days, Mamas! You won't be able to get them back. And your baby will come out, they always do.