Pregnancy takes us through many changes and there is often a sense of expectation that we will have given birth by 40 weeks or our estimate due date, even if we know that term of pregnancy is considered in the UK to be 37-42 weeks and babies are also born sometimes at 43 and 44 weeks.
Through our planning and preparation, an area that is often forgotten is what we will do and how we will feel if our pregnancy goes beyond 40 weeks. We may feel relaxed about our estimated due date but there is something subtley pressuring in the back our our minds about a date, especially during our first experience where we are anticipating the start of birth and the unknown sensations that brings.
We can also feel the pressure from family and friends who want to know how we are getting on and from professionals who may start talking about inductions.
For us experiencing late pregnancy we can also enter a bit of a no-mans land of time, a place that is no longer the changes of pregnancy but also not yet time with our baby, this when coupled with a change in our life such as maternity leave, can be a psychologically uncomfortable space.
It’s important to navigate this space in a way that feels connected to our thoughts and feelings, otherwise the pressure can build up emotionally and we may make decisions based on the subtle impact of that time pressure rather than from a place of empowerment.
Have a due-month
For us and others it can help to in mind a rough time frame for birth, rather a date which can carry a lot of anticipation perhaps a due month or season for example when asked when is your baby due it can ease the pressue to say ‘sometime in May’ and reaffirming this in our own minds too.
Only 5% of babies are born on their estimated due date and it is important to remember that the date is an estimation, based on cycles for which all women have different rhythms.
If you are at 40 weeks or beyond and feeling the length of the days, remmeber each day that goes by is one day closer to your birthing day.
Keep Your Mind Occupied
Our minds are powerful things and we need to respect how they work and influence all of our actions. If we feel we are ‘over-due’ (the language itself implies something should have already happened) this can create a subtle pressure for us consciously and also subsconsciously. The anticipation can grow and we can feel ourselves making decisions based on this subtle stress, rather than feeling nourished or empowered, an example may be feeling we ‘have to’ agree to induction techniques that we don’t feel comfortable with but feel an internal and external pressure to take.
To help release some of this pressure it can help to keep the mind gently occupied; moving its focus from when birth is going to happen to something else it can look forward to and anticipate each day too.
A tip I offer to all those I work with is to plan ahead and make a gentle daily schedule for 40 weeks plus. Something you’d like to do but wouldn’t feel too disappointed to delay if birth happens before you do it, perhaps a walk, an exhibition a coffee with friends outside of antenatal meet-ups too.
This can be especially useful if we find our lifestyles and routines have changed such as being on maternity leave. Giving the mind a sense of continuity to our old rhythms whilst honouring our new ones.
Keep Gently Active & Rest
At 40 weeks plus it is not just the emotional anticipation that can make us feel ready to birth and transition out of pregnancy, it is also the physical readiness too. The growing body, the slowing down, trying to turn over in bed or put our shoes on.
Staying gentlly active not only benefits our emotional wellbeing, it connec ts us to our bodies adn studies have shown that gentle activity throughout pregnancy has health benefits.
Depending on your activity and pre-pregnancy activity levels you may want to consider walks, swimming, yoga or any other activity you are used to during these last weeks before birth. These can also support positioning for baby which can again support your birth.
Of course listen to your body and rest if that is what your body is asking. Birth is physically amazing, your body works powerfully, so having resources and energy can be incredibly useful.
With thanks to Jhemara the Artist for use of this stunning image, her work can be found here jhemara_theartist
Sakina Ballard is a KGH trained Hypnobirthing teacher, Positive Birth Movement Facilitator and Birth Trauma Resolution Practitioner based in South London. To find out more visit www.tranquilbirth.co.uk