As a doulas, we know (and frequently remind our clients) that your estimated due date is just that: estimated. We’ll tell you over and over that your baby will come out when they’re good and ready, and that, usually, your body knows how to go in to labour all on it’s own.
That being said: the waiting part can be really, really hard. Trying to plan your life around this huge event that you never know when to expect to begin can get complicated, frustrating, and can make you feel pretty out of control. Here are some tips on how to get through the last few weeks of pregnancy (also known as the longest wait of your life).
#1: Don’t expect anything.
Don’t sit around waiting for labour to begin. Don’t gaze longingly at the calendar and think “I’ll definitely have had a baby by then”. Don’t make plans with the caveat of, “… if I’m not in labour by then!”. Keep calm, carry on, and don’t expect anything to happen.
Why? Because it’s a heck of a lot easier to get through these final days and weeks when you’re not focused on the one thing you want most of all. Try your best to ignore the impending “due” date and carry on with life as normally as you can.
#2: Realize that you’ll probably go “late”.
Like we said, estimated due dates are just that: estimated. Your body doesn’t understand the date that it’s been assigned to go into labour; it will do so when it (and your baby) is good and ready. Only about 4% of babies are born on their due date, and that’s not because the rest of them are coming early: the average first time pregnancy goes to 41 weeks and 1 day. The average second+ time pregnancy goes to 40 weeks and 3 days.
This means that you are pretty likely to still be pregnant past that guess date you’ve got circled on your calendar. It can make you crazy, yeah, but remember: expect nothing. You can’t stay pregnant forever.
Okay, stay with us on this one. We know everyone is telling you to “relax” or “rest now while you can”, and you’re probably thinking, “Rest? How? There is no longer any position that is comfortable to sleep in!”. While you should try to get as much rest as you can now so that you’re ready to go when you finally go into labour, we meant relax mentally.
Think about it this way: in the wild, an animal won’t go into labour when they are feeling threatened, unsafe, or stressed. Your body can actually stay pregnant longer if it determines that you’re in an unsafe space (physically or mentally) for your baby to be born into. Try to stay calm, stop being hyper-aware of every sensation in your body (“was that gas, or a contraction?!”), and stay focused on your family, friends, and your life.
Do not Google “still pregnant at 41 weeks”. Just don’t.
Yeah, we know, you probably don’t feel like doing this one at all. You’re tired, uncomfortable, you have 2 maternity shirts left that “fit”, and everywhere you go, people ask when you’re due. But we promise, it’s worth it.
Light exercise at the end of your pregnancy is going to help you feel better physically and emotionally (the rush of endorphins that is released after physical exercise can last for hours and can make a huge difference in your mood). In addition, it’s going to help your body build endurance to get through the tough work of giving birth. The better shape you’re in before labour begins, the easier your labour will be and the faster you’ll recover from it.
Try going for a 30 minute walk every day, swimming, or prenatal yoga. You’ll probably be glad you made the time to do something so good for yourself.
#5 Tune everyone else out.
One of the very best parts about being super pregnant is how everyone calls, texts, or messages you asking, “Have you had that baby yet?!” (yes, I did, I just forgot to tell everyone) or, “Are you still pregnant?!” (Wait, hang on, let me check…) or, “When is the baby coming?” (Like you haven’t had that exact thought fifteen times already today).
Sometimes, even just dealing with so many people asking how you’re doing or if you’re “hanging in there” can make you want to scream.
Here is your official permission to ignore everyone. Turn off your phone, ignore the texts, and make a post on Facebook telling everyone that you’ll be SURE not to forget to make the announcement that you’ve had a child and to please stop pestering you for updates. It’s okay to take this last little bit of time for self-care. Surround yourself with people that will empathize with your situation, listen to your complaints/fears/frustrations, and that will do everything they can to distract you.
Bottom line: The end of pregnancy can be really, really hard, and every day can feel like five. As impatient as you may be feeling now, remember that literally no one has been pregnant forever. The baby will come out eventually. The silver lining here is that by the time you do finally go into labour, you’ll be so over pregnancy that any fears or anxieties you may have had about it will be long gone. You’ve got this. And we’ve got you.