Approaching My "Guess Date" with Love and Acceptance
As 40 weeks, or my guess date/due date, approached I was a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand I felt both physically and emotionally "done" with my pregnancy. My abdomen did not feel like it could expand any further and the late-gestation aches and pains were starting to feel very uncomfortable. My night-wakenings increased (which is normal for me) and I felt like I was destroying an entire forest with the amount of toilet paper I was using on a daily basis. Emotionally, I also felt very tired. I considered myself as prepared as someone could possibly be both practically and emotionally. Everything was in place, yet my baby was still firmly settled on remaining in utero. My biggest pre-labour sign was increasing pelvic pressure but besides that, I felt nothing else monumental. No Braxton Hick contractions or other obvious signs that labour was imminent.
Feelings of impatience are very common during this stage of pregnancy and I had to keep reminding myself of that. One's guess date is just that, an educated guess. Some women know the exact date that they conceived but for others, it could be a number of different days. I found myself repeating more positive birth affirmations and reminding myself that yes, this baby will come. I will not be pregnant forever. I will get to meet and hold my baby very soon and that is worth waiting for! I also really value the ability to allow my baby to choose their own birthday. Instead of looking at my experience of waiting as a pain or late-pregnancy torture, I reminded myself that I am actually very lucky. Many babies do not get to choose their birth date because of medical necessity and others arrive preterm and have immediate postnatal difficulties. In comparison, my baby is deciding to be born when they are ready.
How labour actually begins and whom/what initiates the process is still a mystery. It is often believed that the baby sends signals to the placenta once its lungs are mature, which then communicates the baby's readiness to the mother's body so contractions can begin. This interconnectedness is something I trust. I trust in my baby's ability to know when they are ready to be born and that's a really wonderful, comforting thing.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED "NORMAL"?
A baby arriving past 40 weeks is not uncommon and is very much within the range of "normal." In fact, the length of pregnancy can vary by over five weeks (approx 37 days!) according to this scientific study, ranging from 37-42 weeks normally. While going over one's due date may feel frustrating for a variety of reasons, it is important to trust your body and your baby and the connection you both have. If baby cannot choose their own birthday for a variety of reasons or an induction is being recommended, it's important to be fully informed in any decisions you make, as all medical interventions come with some type of risk. Know that you can always ask questions including the reasoning behind the induction recommendation along with the potential benefits, risks and alternatives so you can make the decision that you feel the most comfortable with.