Ditch the Due Date

How to cope with the tyranny of a due date. Learning the art of patience and cultivating confidence in yourself and your baby.
Art by Itaiana Battoni 

My heart goes out to you, because the waiting at this stage is so hard. Every evening you go to bed, hoping that this will be The Night. Every morning you wake up, still pregnant and think, ‘When will my baby come?’ Every phone conversation starts with ‘I’m still pregnant’. You even start to feel guilty about making your partner/mum/other children wait so long to meet the baby. The hours tick by slowly and a watched pot never boils. Sound familiar?

 We can refuse to use the word ‘due date’

If I ruled the world then I would issue a decree that we all change our language. I would banish the words ‘due date’ and even ‘due period’. I would completely do away with the concept of an ‘expected delivery date’ or even the less specific ‘estimated due date’ (EDD). Instead I would call the last five/six weeks of pregnancy ‘The Waiting Zone’. Imagine how different things would be if there were no magical date at all! I honestly think women had it much better when pregnancy was counted in moon cycles, rather than weeks. Weeks are not a suitable measuring scale when talking about the end of pregnancy! Babies are ‘term’ i.e. ready to be born between 37 weeks to 42 weeks plus. Do we really need to magnify this time by counting days?

The medical pressure snowball

The medical establishment start to ramp up the pressure, even before 41 weeks of completed pregnancy. Women are coerced into having ‘stretch and sweeps’, despite the fact that there is no medical evidence that they work. This fairly invasive procedure carries risk of infection and of your waters being accidentally broken. They may trigger a series of ineffectual contractions which get your hopes up but doesn’t actually lead to labour. This may leave you feeling exhausted by the time that real labour does start. But hey, at least we feel like we are doing something! This is the nub of the matter. We are so used to dealing with problems and issues by taking decisive action, that we have very little practice at adopting a do-nothing approach.

The pace then picks up and medical pressure starts to snowball. Dates are suggested for induction and the word ‘stillbirth’ is dropped into every check-up. All this despite the fact that we are statistically almost as likely to have a stillborn baby at 37 weeks than 42 weeks. The risk goes up a fraction as time goes on and of course there is always the risk of having a stillborn baby during the induction process (not to mention a whole load of other risks). Still healthcare professionals rarely mention these risks.

 Natural induction

Natural forms of getting labour going are still essentially induction. We are trying to force our body into doing something it doesn’t really want to do.  Doggy-style sex (helps the semen hit the cervix, so its prostaglandins can ripen it, in case you wanted to know) can definitely help, but it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, particularly at 10 months pregnant!  Any google search reveals a dozen or more other ‘natural’ ways of triggering labour. Most of them won’t help (pineapple) or run risks (castor oil). None of them have any scientific research or trials behind them though. It’s likely to be an expensive and emotional journey, with little chance of success. We simply don’t know how to trigger labour in a way that ensures the same subtle interplay of labour hormones that occur naturally.

So what’s the solution?

  • If you’re confident about your conception date then you can refuse to use the scan dates. You can insist that they are changed on our birth notes. Mothers can and do manage this.
  • You can reject the notion of a due date. You can tell your friends and family that your baby is coming sometime in March or April.
  • You can treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. Stop asking other pregnant mothers when their baby is ‘due’. You can ban yourself from ever uttering the words ‘late’ or ‘early’ in relation to birth!
  • You can ask everyone you know to follow suit.

How can I learn the art of being patient?

  • You can tune into your baby. Tell your wee one that you trust them and are ready when they are.
  • You can plan lots of lovely treats for the last weeks of your pregnancy. Keeping busy helps the time pass faster. Think country walks, film nights, cake baking, massages & cooking for the freezer. Things that are feel good – lighting the fire in the dark months, picking daisies in the summer months & bargain hunting in charity shops whatever the time of year! You can plan a cuppa with a friend and even tidy out your sock drawer. Small jobs and missions that are easily accomplishable are best. This is not the time to start decorating!
  • Doing some kind of meditation or yoga practice can really help.
  • Breathe deeply and go outside into nature. Take long walks
  • Count your blessings
  • Practice patience early on in your pregnancy by deliberately choosing the long queue in the supermarket
  • Tell yourself that your baby probably won’t show up until 42 weeks
  • Create a protective bubble around you and choose your company wisely. Not the time to see friends who get you down or drain you.
  • Put a note up on your social media pages telling people not to keep pestering you and that you will tell them once you have some news.

Accept that ultimately you have no control over when you give birth. This is a baby-led ride. Just relax and get on with your life, until your baby decides that today is the day. In the meantime I’d love to hear from you about your journey with ditching your due date. What helps and what hinders? Please get in touch!

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