Monday, March 17, 2014

Waiting for Baby

One  of  the  most  important  characteristics  of  motherhood  is patience.  So  easy  to say, so  obvious  that mothers need patience,  and  yet  it's  such  a  difficult  trait  to  master.  I  believe  that  pregnancy  is  designed  to ensure  that  mamas  have  every  opportunity  to  learn  the  patience  that  will be  required  to  mother  this  coming  child.

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  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.