Will this Baby Ever Arrive?? 15 Tips For An 'overdue' Baby
The problem with due dates is that the only person who is entirely disinterested in them is the baby in your womb…..who will more than likely use the event of being born as an opportunity to get started on a lifetime of messing with your schedule and being gleefully beyond your control! Babies simply have not read the book about due dates, and simply turn up when they feel like it. And actually the what triggers labour to start is something that scientists can’t actually fully explain.
That means that very few baby’s arrive on their ‘estimated due date’ ( only about 5%). In fact the length of a ‘normal’ pregnancy can vary by up to five weeks! So babies are only ‘early’ if they arrive before 37 week, and ‘late’ if they arrive at 42 weeks or more (according the the World Health Organisation). And even then some women grow babies for more that 42 weeks. Oh and add to this the fact that your EDD estimated due date (the E is the important bit!) may be wrong, as not all menstrual cycles are the same. EDD is calculated for a 28 day menstrual cycle, , and with ovulation on day 14, but of course this varies between women from 21 to 35 days so that’s potentially a two week variance there. It’s as simply as - all women are different, all babies are different, nature is full of variety. It’s a shock, I know.
But waiting for baby can be a tricky time for parents to be, especially mothers to be. It can involve many, many, many phone calls and text messages from well meaning family and friends (has baby arrived yet?? cue you: “erm yes two weeks ago…we just hadn’t bothered to tell you!! I mean NO, go away and leave me alone, you’re starting to stress me out by constantly asking. We’ll let you know when it happens. Now politely go away. grrrrr” ). Joking aside the pressure for an induction will very likely mount from health care professionals. And it can really spoil the last few days and weeks of pregnancy that ought to be a really special time. Worse still it can really undermine a woman’s much-needed confidence in her body before she’s even started the challenging journey of labour and birth. And you need to go into labour with a calm and confident mind set, not fear and worry it is *hugely* important for the physiological, hormone driven process of labour.
I hear this *all* the time in my pregnancy yoga classes, and from couples who come to my Hypnobirthing & Birth Preparation courses. Often a frantic email - babies not here yet, there’s talk of induction, I don’t want to wait any longer, what can I do???
So here are some ‘natural nudges’ that women often try. As long as your Midwife or doctor give you the go ahead there’s no harm in giving them a go (always talk to your midwife or doctor before trying any type of induction technique), as anything that relaxes you and increases your oxytocin levels can only help. But there’s definitely no magic wand that can be waved (sorry about that, wish there was). Above all patience is paramount (sorry, I know that’s really not what most women want to hear) - ‘baby will come when baby is ready’ and although the waiting can be tough, knowing all babies are different and trying to relax into it and trusting your baby and your body is the key. Try to enjoy this last bit of time being pregnant, savour the time, your bump, the ‘twin heartedness’ that is unique to pregnancy. You may also like to read this lovely article too about the last days of pregnancy, a time called ‘zwischen’ - a place of inbetween
# 1 Relaxing in a warm bath
Getting relaxed and getting your oxytocin flowing is the important thing. So enjoying a delicious long warm bath, where the water makes you feel lovely and weightless and the warmth soothes you can be lovely. Maybe with some relaxing essential oils in or put some in a room diffuser. Then you can listen to your relaxing music playlist or put on your Positive Affirmations hypnobirthing MP3. While you’re in you could there close your eyes and use the visualisation technique of taking yourself to your own relaxed and special place, or listen to the ‘birth rehearsal’ MP3. Relaxing is the main thing, so do whatever works for you.
# 2 Releasing Fear
The stress hormone adrenaline has the power to inhibit labour from starting (it’s the antithesis of the birth hormone oxytocin). So practicing a fear releasing exercise is a great idea. It could be simply talking to your birth partner about them, or writing any worries and fears down (just let it all flow out, without judging what you’re writing) can help hugely. It could be about the birth, about parenthood, just anything that is worry you in some way. This can have a profound effect on how the subconcious mind feels about starting the process of labour. Ina May Gaskin (midwife legend) talks about this many times in her excellent books. And in the hypnobirthing course workbook & journal I’ve created uniquely for my course, we look a specific fear release exercise and meditation too. You can also listen to the ‘confidence & power’ MP3 guided relaxation from my course too. It’s very normal for your fears to be different now from what they were earlier in your pregnancy, so if you’ve already done fear releasing, do it again now. Remember it needs to feel like it’s ‘safe’ to release your baby out into the world (it’s an primal animal instinct).
# 3 Clary Sage essential oil
Only use Clary Sage after 37 weeks, it’s potentially powerful stuff and is only recommended once you reach full term (and yes, full term IS 37 to 42 weeks don’t forget). You can use this essential oil in many different ways - use in an electric room diffuser, sprinkle some on a hanky and sniff it, put just a couple of drops into that relaxing warm bath mentioned above, blend into a massage oil and get a lovely massage from your partner. Always buy good quality essential oils (organic preferably), from a trusted brand. Neals Yard Organic and Tisserand are good ones to look for.
# 4 Reflexology and Acupuncture
Spending some time getting pampered, nurtured and cared for and getting relaxed will all help to boost your bodys oxytocin levels. So both reflexology and acupuncture can be lovely things to do all through pregnancy, and especially to help you relax towards the end.
In York we are lucky enough to have the wonderful Renni Prelle Reflexologist who is very experienced treating pregnant women. We did a little video together for my YouTube channel all about Pregnancy Reflexology. Take a look so you can learn more all about how reflexology can benefit you (I just find it SO relaxing myself, even when not pregnant its such a lovely thing to do).
# 5 Watch a funny DVD
When we laugh we produce happy hormones, and that includes oxytocin and endorphins, which inhibit the production of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), making a spontaneous, natural start to labour more likely. So watching funny DVD’s (James Acaster seems to be a recent favourite for a number of recent womens from my Hypnobirthing Courses!), or any lighthearted and funny television or films can be a nice thing to do now. Feeling safe, relaxed and having a good old laugh are all brilliant tonics for the apprehension that can start creeping in during the last days of pregnancy.
Whenever you kiss, hug, have sex, share intimacy or climax with the person you love, you produce the hormone oxytocin. And this is the exact hormone that start labour and continue it’s magical dance to bring baby into the world. So now is a great time to connect with your partner in a deep way. Like they say ‘hugs before drugs’.
#7 Eat A Nice meal
Eating lovely food, and being surrounded by people you love (your partner, family or friends) and have a happy time will all help you feel good. And that all comes back to the oxytocin again - having a delicious meal out with friends or as a loved up couple can boost your oxytocin levels. And if that’s your favourite food, or food that has happy memories for you that will all be beneficial too. So get booking a restaurant, or even just get your favourite take away ordered (either way there’s minimal washing up and that’s always a good thing too!)
# 8 Eat some dates
There is some research that have found that eating dates in late pregnancy around 60-80 grams a day of fruit, may increase cervical ripening, and also reduce the need for a medical labor induction of labour or augmentation, and one small study found a positive effect on postpartum blood loss. Researcher have found that dates have an oxytocinlike effect on the body, which can help labour to start.
However, nobody’s looked at this in women with gestational diabetes, so if you have gestational diabetes, these results probably don’t apply to you. Also, these studies were small and they had limitations - you know if you’re eating dates or not, so people in the research studies and the mothers may have known that they were eating dates, which may affect the results and lead to some bias. They also didn’t look at the women’s diets outside of the dates.
In summary, it probably doesn’t hurt to dates as long as you don’t have gestational diabetes and it may actually help in these small studies that we saw.
The visualisation technique you’ll learn on my Hypnobirthing course, can be great to use now. You can use the ‘Birth Visualisation’ MP3 to guide you, or you can try simply visulaising holding your baby in your arms. As you close your eyes and imagine this, really visualise what they look like, how much hair they have, their tiny fingers and toes. Connect with your baby, talk to them, tell them it’s safe and you’re so looking forward and ready to meet them. And as you have a 'chat' with your baby, you could suggesting why coming sooner would be lovely and how you are both so excited to meet him/her.
# 10 Massage
A pregnancy massage is a lovely treat, but it could also help as well as getting you feeling relaxed, to release any physical tension in the muscles of the body and this physical release of the body can signal the mind to be relaxed too and know that all is well and safe. The rhythmical strokes of hands over your skin can release the feel-good hormone oxytocin too. You can get your partner to give you a massage, or head to a pregnancy specific massage expert like the wonderful Michaela at York Mother Nurture
And you can also do some of the ‘light touch’ massage from my Hypnobirthing & Birth Preparation Course you’ll also be specifically releasing endorphins, which can be really helpful to build up before labour starts too.
# 11 Listen to your relaxation MP3’s
The relaxation MP3’s that you receive on my Hypnobirthing & Birth Preparation course are really invaluable now. Or of course your birth partner could read the scripts out to you too. Try listening to the Positive Affirmations MP3 at least twice a day, and any of the guided relaxation MP3’s anytime you go for a nap (and that may be quite common now. Napping can be a real joy of later pregnancy) and before you go to bed at night too. Get in the zone, and feel calm and comfortable letting these MP3’s take you to a place of rest and ease.
# 12 Dance like no ones watching
Put on your uplifting birth playlist (and I always suggest have a restful, relaxing playlist too) and have a dance - because getting moving, swaying and moving your hips and pelvis will help to encourage baby’s head down into your pelvis. And dancing also releases those all important feel good hormones too. So get on some uplifting tunes and get your body moving in any way that feels good to you. #dancelikenooneiswatching
# 13 Positive Affirmations and Positive Birth Stories
Repeating positive affirmation can have a great positive effect on you. Use the Positive Affirmation Cards from my Hypnobirthing course (also available to buy here), or make up your own, and put them up around you home in places you’ll see the often (by the kettle, on the fridge door, on the mirror in the loo) or listen to your Positive Affirmations MP3 track.
Talk to your baby, say the affirmations out loud, really believe them.
# 14 Nipple stimulation
The effectiveness of nipple stimulation does have some solid scientific evidence. But depending on your medical history, the method may or may not be safe for you to try. Rubbing or rolling your nipples helps the body release oxytocin, which plays a role in initiating labor. Stimulating the breasts may also help bring on full labor by making your surges (contractions) stronger and longer. In one study the results were compelling, women in the nipple stimulation group had the shortest durations of each phase of labour and birth - that research is here: Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing,
So how do you do the nipple stimulation?
Firstly note that this method of labor stimulation is only recommended for normal (not high risk) pregnancies. It’s effects in late pregnancy can be powerful. For the best results, you want to mimic a baby’s latch as closely as you can. You can use your fingers, a breast pump, or even your partner’s mouth to stimulate your nipples. If you have an older baby or toddler who is still nursing, that might also provide good stimulation.
Focus on the areola, the dark circle that surrounds your actual nipple. When babies nurse, they massage the areola, not just the nipple itself. Use your fingers or palm to gently rub your areola through thin clothing or directly on the skin.
You want to avoid over stimulation, so focus on one breast at a time, limit stimulation to just five minutes, and wait another 15 before trying again. Also take a break from nipple stimulation during surges (contractions), and stop nipple stimulation when surges are three minutes apart or less, and one minute in length or longer.
# 15 Go for a walk
Going for a walk every day can help you get in touch with nature, and how capable and connected we are with the whole world around us. We are part of something bigger, something amazing, and we have been for thousands and thousands of years. So getting outside can help to boost those feel good hormones, help stop you going stir crazy with the waiting perhaps, and the movement of walking can help babies head position down into your pelvis too.
And finally, you may want to recalculate your due date. Because you never know, the midwife and/or the sonographer who did you dating scan may just have it wrong and you are not overdue at all (as mentioned in the opening paragraph it depends on your menstrual cycle length and when you ovulate which you may know, or you may not).
Do whatever makes YOU feel good and relaxed, it certainly doesn’t have to be something on this list. And also turn off you phone so people can't hassle you - any worry cause by them will increase the stress levels at least a little. So trying not to worry, despite the fact that patience is hard right now I know.
Do bear in mind that these natural nudges are not going to start labour unless your mind, body and baby are ready. Remember your baby knows how and when to be born. Labour will happen when the time is right, so trust in the process and do all that you can to relax. As Katharine Graves always ways “Baby will come when baby is ready.”
Michel Odent says that pregnancy should be spent reading poetry and gazing at the stars - I love the sentiment, and this could definitely be worth a try. Poetry suggestions - Mary Oliver or Nikita Gill. In France they might suggest a glass of champagne if that relaxed you….. I couldn’t possible say……
But PATIENCE is the key. Be positive, you can do this, relax into it. You have GOT THIS