Let’s be honest, we all know ‘estimated due date’ is never accurate. Yet, we continue to sit here naively thinking that by 40 weeks (hopefully sooner, you know….because it could be as early as 37 weeks!) we will have the baby. Why did I think my son would be early? Now I am shooting myself in the foot for not remembering that it could also be up to 42 weeks. But what if he comes after 42 weeks?
This is where I am now, 41 weeks and 2 days. I didn’t think I would get this far. I feel silly for even thinking he might be earlier than 40 weeks because now I have been waiting for the last 4 weeks thinking, ‘any day now!’ Do you know what this does to you? Thinking ‘any day now!’ for almost a month? Well, let me tell you, it’s absolutely draining and depressing. I have cried every single day. Hard. My partner thinks I may have pre-partum blues. Is this even a thing? I’ve been waiting for this magical moment that is meant to be the happiest day of my life, but every day feels like a month and every hour feels like a day. I prepared everything before 37 weeks:
- Finished work and started maternity leave
- Completed my papers/assignments for the semester (currently study for my postgraduate degree)
- Bought every baby item known to man
- Read and practised birthing exercises/breathing
- Read every baby book in the world
And now I am just sitting here. Waiting. But I am so ready. I have been ready for what feels like a year now.
But he is not here, he is ‘overdue’ according to the NHS. However, studies have proven that the average first time mother has her baby around 41 weeks. So my question is, why are hospitals around the world still giving ‘estimated due date’ out as an indicator of when your baby will arrive? To save mothers the unnecessary stress, shouldn’t we just give a ‘due month’? ‘Your baby will be due at some point in December.’ I think I would have been able to cope with this a bit better. Adults grow at different rates, so do babies! There isn’t one date that is good for any mother, because we all have a different physiological make-up and therefore, the doctor can never determine an accurate date.
My other concern is that mothers are offered inductions too early. At my appointment yesterday, my midwife said, ‘So, you’re 41 weeks and 1 day, okay we’ll schedule an induction for this weekend.’ Hold up! I didn’t say anything about wanting an induction, I rejected the membrane sweep they offered me yesterday, why would I opt for an induction? I have been very healthy throughout the entire pregnancy, every appointment has been great; right bump size, baby’s heart beat healthy, movements are good, blood pressure is perfect. Why would I want to yank my baby out before he is ready? The World Health Organization’s definition of a ‘prolonged pregnancy’ is one that has continued beyond 42 weeks ie. is post term. So why are they offering me an induction at 41 weeks?
Increasingly, more women are being induced because they have reached their “estimated due date” of 40 weeks. According to the 2013 Listening to Mothers III survey, more than four out of ten mothers (41%) in the U.S. said that their care provider tried to induce labor (Declercq et al. 2014). The researchers asked women to select the reasons why they were induced. “What was the single most common reason for labor induction?” Out of all women who were induced;
- 44% said that they were induced because their baby was full term and it was “close to the due date.”
- Another 18% said that they were induced because the health care provider was concerned that the mother was “overdue.”
Almost half were induced because they were close to their due date! But we don’t even know if the due date is the right date. At the very least, doctors should wait until 42 weeks, because apparently there are risks involved with pregnancies over 42 weeks. However, there are no studies supporting these claims:
- Your placenta starts to ‘dry up’ – there is no evidence supporting this, and according to the ADC (Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 1997): “There is, in fact, no logical reason for believing that the placenta, which is a fetal organ, should age while the other fetal organs do not”
- There is an increased risk for stillbirth – the risk for stillbirth is extremely small, there is a 1 in 1,000 chance your baby will have stillbirth at 41 weeks, a 2 in 1,000 chance for stillbirth at 42 weeks, and a 3 in 1,000 chance for stillbirth at 43 weeks (study found here)
In another review of the literature in the Journal of Perinatal Medicine, “In order to prevent PT (post-term) and associated complications, routine induction before 42 weeks has been proposed. There is no conclusive evidence that this policy improves fetal, maternal and neo- natal outcomes as compared to expectant management.”
If you have been healthy throughout the entire pregnancy, why would you need an induction? I think it is safe to say that if you are still pregnant at 42 weeks, it’s perfectly fine to continue with your pregnancy until your baby is ready to come out. Of course, you can opt for fetal monitoring at this stage, and the doctors will keep a close eye. I have an appointment on Monday with the doctors for an ultrasound and ‘consultation’ on how to move forward. I’m fully going to say, if everything is healthy, that I want to ‘wait and see,’ and they can carry on with fetal monitoring every day.
I think what has been getting me through these extremely long days is knowing that ‘baby will come when he is ready.’ As much as you want the sun to come up, thinking about it all the time isn’t going to change when the sun comes up! I keep telling myself….no one has ever been pregnant forever and I am most likely to have my son in the next couple weeks. Trust your body, it knew how to grow the baby, then you know how to birth the baby too. Unless there are any complications, let it be.
I think the best way to get through the last few weeks is to have a reward system. Every day that you go past the 40 week mark, give yourself something special:
- Go to a movie
- Get a pedicure
- Watch Grey’s Anatomy marathon
- Bake some sugar cookies! (even if you aren’t good at baking, like me, they tasted really good!)
I’ve been thinking the due date is preparing me for motherhood. Life is going to be unpredictable and I need to learn to be patient. I’m just thinking of this waiting period as good practice. There are so many things I won’t have control over when he finally arrives, so I need to learn to just let it go. Life is about journey, not the destination, right?