So much of our lives is run by the clock, by schedules we can control. Alarm clocks. Dental appointments. Work meetings. Start times for church, basketball games, movies, concerts. Many of us stress over being late to gatherings, meetings, or events. We might feel it reflects poorly on us, on our planning, denoting some deficiency in us. Is it no wonder that pregnant mothers (and fathers!) start to get a little wacky at around 40 weeks, if Baby hasn’t made their arrival yet?
Starting with pregnancy, we might begin to realize how little control we have over some things. Still nauseous at 18 weeks, even though all the pregnancy books say you should have felt better four weeks ago? Measuring at 36 weeks, even though by your count you are 38 weeks? Your friend is 35 weeks and tiny, you are 21 weeks and feel like a whale already. Your sister-in-law gave birth ON her due date – twice. Here you are, at 41 weeks, 3 days…still waiting….
The birth begins when Baby is ready; Baby’s fully developed lungs send a signal to the mother’s body that the time is now! This intricate dance involves the mother’s body opening and changing, as the baby tucks their chin, rotates, and descends. It could take a few hours….it could take a few weeks. It could happen all at once, it could stop and start over a seemingly (to the expectant parents) infinite amount of time.
As a doula, I just want to reassure you: You are not a textbook. You are not a statistic. You are an individual mother, and your body is beautifully made to give birth to this Baby! The timing of which will be perfect. A due date is an educated guess, not an appointment your Baby or you has to keep.
So, you’re past 40 weeks. Is Baby late? Not necessarily. You have competent care providers that will help with medical issues that could possibly arrive with you or Baby, and you have me, to be a continuous support to you, your spouse and/or your other chosen birth partners. If a medical indication says that induction is the safest for your Baby, I will be there. If labor can be allowed to start on its own, I will be there.
Now, our love of schedules, if not sufficiently challenged by the waiting for Baby to arrive, really has to be put to rest when considering newborn care, feeding, and sleeping. Babies eat when they’re hungry, and research says they do best when fed on demand. Feed them often, but try not to worry overmuch about the timing of it all, unless you have a bona fide medical reason. Babies learn to regulate their sleep over the first weeks and months and year, and the myth of sleeping through the night? Is anyone really telling the truth about that? Milestones of growth and healing for you and your family will occur at the time they are meant to happen, not by arbitrary charts that encompass lots of averages. You may feel full of energy after week 1…you may feel like week six came too fast and you still need plenty of naps. It’s OK.
You are not average. You are awesome. Your baby is beautiful. So is your body, which has nourished and grown this gift of Love, your little Baby. This is all part of a letting go that mirrors what birthing is. You have to let go, to get something even better.
It is an honor to walk beside you and your loved ones on this amazing path toward welcoming your baby. Try to ditch the schedule, as much as you can. Enjoy the ‘now’, and enjoy your birth.
Laura Devick, Culture of Life Doula, officially launched her business as a birth doula and placenta specialist in 2015, after serving friends and family as a doula for about ten years. She loves to help families create thoughtful, memorable birth experiences, tailored to their needs and wishes. Visit her at www.facebook.com/DevickDoula or at her website www.cultureoflifedoula.com.