Ah, the time of waiting. The time between when you are “due” and the time when your baby actually comes. The time when every other text message is something along the lines of “any news?”, “baby yet?”, “so…. anything exciting happening over there?”. The time when people say things like “you haven’t been induced yet?!” “I hope your baby doesn’t get too big.” “Hasn’t your midwife talked to you about induction yet?”…
… and any number of other possibly well-intentioned, but still crazy-making comments.
One of the most unfair things we do for pregnant families is give them a 40 week “due” date. A date that, while just an estimate, implies a “must-be-born-before” date. A “best-by” date. A “you’re failing if you’re still pregnant” date.
The truth is, the VAST MAJORITY of my clients giving birth to their first babies give birth somewhere between 41 and 42 weeks, with some birthing a bit earlier and some birthing even later than that. However, for those birthing inside the medical system (which not all people choose to do), it is part of procedure to start talking about the option of induction by at least 41 weeks, if not before.
When you are sitting in an office with your Doctor or Registered Midwife, being talked to about the option of induction or post-dates testing, it can feel like something unique is happening with you, and that it’s strange. “Why haven’t I birthed by now?!” “What isn’t working?!” “How come MY body hasn’t gone into the birth process yet?!”
Little do you know while sitting in that chair, that your provider has had this discussion with multiple people that day, that week, that month who are in the exact same place as you, past their 40 week “due” date, and waiting, patiently or impatiently, for their babies. It is NOT strange you haven’t birthed yet, it’s COMMON, even normal.
And yet, people may start to feel like they are neglectful, irresponsible, if they don’t choose to go the induction or heavy postdates monitoring route. Like simply waiting for the birth to happen is such a foreign concept in our culture that a woman or pregnant person feels like she is strange or negligent for doing so.
Similar feelings can arise between the time when your membranes release (“waters break”) and when you birthing sensations begin. While most people’s membranes release at some point during the active phase of birth, some people’s never release and the baby is born in, or partially in, the amniotic sac. Others still will have their membranes release and not have their birth begin for several hours, or even days. Even though 95% of people will go into the birth process within 48 hours of their membranes releasing, there is an expectation that it will, or should occur immediately. Waiting with fluid dripping down your legs, held in the anticipation of knowing birth may begin any time but not knowing when, can be a test of patience, especially in a culture that is induction-happy and looking for any excuse to pressure people to “get things going”.
The discomforts of late pregnancy are easy to Google: painful pelvis, squished bladder, swollen ankles, leaky nipples, weight unevenly distributed in a girth that makes scratching an itch at ankle level a feat of flexibility. “You might find yourself teary and exhausted,” says one website, “but your baby is coming soon!” Cheer up, sweetie, you’re having a baby. More messaging that what is going on is incidental and insignificant.
What we don’t have is reverence or relevance — or even a working understanding of the vulnerability and openness a woman experiences at this time. Our language and culture fails us. This surely explains why many women find this time so complicated and tricky. But whether we recognize it or not, these last days of pregnancy are a distinct biologic and psychological event, essential to the birth of a mother.
We don’t scientifically understand the complex hormones at play that loosen both her hips and her awareness. In fact, this uncomfortable time of aching is an early form of labor in which a woman begins opening her cervix and her soul. Someday, maybe we will be able to quantify this hormonal advance — the prolactin, oxytocin, cortisol, relaxin. But for now, it is still shrouded in mystery, and we know only how to measure thinning and dilation.
“You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.” -Tinkerbell
I believe that this is more than biological. It is spiritual. To give birth, whether at home in a birth tub with candles and family or in a surgical suite with machines and a neonatal team, a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey.
We need time and space to prepare for that journey. And somewhere, deep inside us, at a primal level, our cells and hormones and mind and soul know this, and begin the work with or without our awareness.
I call out Zwischen in prenatals as a way of offering comfort and, also, as a way of offering protection. I see how simple it is to exploit and abuse this time. A scheduled induction is seductive, promising a sense of control. Fearful and confused family can trigger a crisis of confidence. We are not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity. Giving this a name points her toward listening and developing her own intuition. That, in turn, is a powerful training ground for motherhood.
Jana Studelska CPM/LM, Source: READ FULL POST HERE.
For anyone out there patiently, or impatiently, waiting for your babies, please know that so many others are with you in going past your “due” date of 40 weeks, past 41 weeks, even past 42 weeks. For those of you who are waiting with released membranes as a reminder that birth is just around the corner but for whom it hasn’t quite begun, know there are many people in the world with you right now similarly waiting in anticipation. Know that it’s normal to feel antsy, and that there is a process happening within you that is shifting things as your body prepares to let go of your baby. Know that, while societal pressures to induce may be everywhere, only you can decide what is best for you and your baby, and many people choose to wait for birth to begin spontaneously, too, even thought those stories may be lest commonly shared among your peers.
Have patience, those of you waiting for your babies. While you wait, focus on nourishing your body, alternating rest with gentle activity, do things that feed your body and your mind and your emotions. If your membranes have released see the posts below for tips on keeping your body healthy during this time. Above all, enjoy this final stretch of pregnancy, with all the anticipation, discomforts, and outside comments that you may or may not be experiencing, and know that the waiting will not be forever.
Further Educational Reading:
- Induction Choice: Know Your Info
- Induction of Labour: Balancing Risks
- Pre-labour Release of Membranes: Impatience and Risk
- Membrane Release Before Birth Sensations Begin: What to Do
- Ten Month Mamas Facebook Group
Click on the above links to explore educational articles on this topic! In the meantime, I wish you a peaceful end to your pregnancy and patience in waiting for your babies.
If you are looking for support for your gentle, informed and undisturbed birth in Greater Vancouver, BC, please feel free to contact me!