40 weeks. DUE date. Overdue.
All these terms make us think of our unborn babies as having an expiration date.
The truth is, giving a baby a due date of 40 weeks is not evidence-based for determining when a baby should be born. (For more information on this, go here: http://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-on-inducing-labor-for-going-past-your-due-date/) Gestation has to do with genetics, a mother’s specific fertility cycle and each individual baby’s development, among other things.
We live in a culture and society filled with impatience and desire for instant gratification. It is very hard for us to relinquish control and let our bodies and our baby decide when to be born without interference.
I am a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator, and one of their 6 Healthy Birth Practices that I teach is “Let labor begin on its own.” There are so many benefits to allowing your body to go into labor when it’s ready. Many of your hormones align in a way that is optimal for you to manage labor and your baby getting ready to descend down the birth canal. In addition, there is a protein in the lungs of the fetus (called surfactant) that is secreted and signals the mother’s uterus to begin labor when the baby’s lungs are mature enough to survive outside the womb. Pretty cool, right?
With the holidays coming up, you may feel more pressure to have your baby on a specific day, but I would like to remind you that a provider’s schedule is not a reason to induce. There are, of course, medical reasons for induction. (And it goes without saying that you should always listen to your provider regarding these reasons.)
When I was pregnant with my second child, I had pre-labor contractions for 3 weeks. She was born 12 days past her “DUE date.” Those last few weeks were HARD. I wanted to meet my new baby and was so eager and excited to experience labor and birth again. When labor did start and she was born, I was reminded of all the reasons why it was beneficial to wait and let my body and baby do what it needed.
As your doula, I will encourage you to have faith in the process if that is what you need. Trust your body and your baby. Your pregnancy will end and you will have a beautiful baby after all your hard work!