Your belly is huge, your due date has passed, and yet little Susie or Johnny has shown no interest in moving out of his or her cozy home. Your due date is calculated by counting forward 280 days from the start of your last menstrual period. Your due date is only an estimate of when your baby should come and is often off by a number of days. It is very common to deliver past your due date, particularly if you are a first-time mom. Knowing that it is common provides little comfort when you are the one overdue. Below are our best tips for surviving an overdue pregnancy.
Talk to Your Doctor
Women have varying opinions on labor and childbirth. Some prefer a natural, wait-and-see approach, while others are very anxious and eagerly interested in induction. In our mother's generation, it was not uncommon to deliver at 42 or even 43 weeks. Presently many doctors will induce at 40 or 41 weeks if your cervix is favorable. If you would prefer the wait-and-see approach, or your cervix is unfavorable for induction, your doctor or midwife will monitor you and baby closely. You will likely have a nonstress test or biophysical profile done once or even twice a week if you are overdue. By 42 weeks, your doctor will most likely choose to induce regardless of whether your cervix is favorable or not.
Get Lots of Rest
The last month of pregnancy is exhausting. You may not be sleeping well due to discomfort and anxiety about your approaching labor. Remember to keep taking your prenatal vitamins and rest as much as you can. Lack of sleep and fatigue can wear on your mood. Use a body pillow at night to help you sleep. Take an afternoon nap if you are not sleeping well or just rest with you feet up if sleep is not possible.
Finish up Preparations for Baby
Now is a good time to finish up those last minute things you need for baby. You may have packed your hospital bag weeks earlier and finished the nursery what seems like ages ago, so here are a few ideas you might not have thought of to keep yourself busy. Install your car seat and have it checked for safety. Many hospitals and insurance companies will do car seat safety checks. Purchase a lullaby CD and set up a rocking chair nearby to rock your baby to sleep.
Try Relaxation and Meditation
If you've never done relaxation exercises or meditation this probably sounds a bit corny, but it can't hurt to try it. Purchase a CD, if you don't have one already, with relaxing music or sounds from the rainforest or beach. Try slow deep breaths, relaxing your muscles one at a time. Alternatively, you can purchase a CD or video that gives specific instructions on relaxation exercises. Now would also be a good time to practice relaxation and breathing exercises from your childbirth class.
Try Natural Labor Inducers
There are a few things you can try to induce labor naturally. Foods such as pineapple and eggplant have been suggested as labor inducers. Cooked in a yummy recipe, it's certainly worth a shot. Cinnamon tea made from cinnamon sticks steeped in hot water is another thing you can try. Walking is something else you can try. The verdict is still out as to whether walking actually helps, but a little exercise is good for the body and soul regardless of effectiveness in inducing labor. There are many other tips, tricks, and old wives tales you can try naturally induce labor. Check with your doctor or midwife before trying anything to naturally induce labor.
Check Fetal Movements
It is very important when you are overdue to keep a close eye on fetal movements. There are variations on how to keep track of fetal kick counts, so talk to your doctor about how to track and monitor your baby's movements. If you notice a decrease or change in your baby's activity, call your doctor.
Observe for Signs of Labor
For some women keeping track of signs of labor will bring comfort, and for others, it is discouraging. As your pregnancy comes to an end, your body will show signs or readiness for labor. Increasing Braxton Hicks contractions, pelvic aches, backache, and increasing vaginal secretions are all early signs or labor. Early labor symptoms can begin weeks before labor, but all these signs are reassuring; your body is indeed getting ready for birth.
Keeping busy will help keep your mind off of things. Here are a few suggestions to keep yourself busy. Take this time to freeze up a few meals for after baby's birth. This will allow you a little extra time and rest when the baby is home. Make a belly cast of your pregnant tummy to commemorate your pregnancy. Start a scrapbook album for your baby. You can include mementos from your pregnancy and prepare pages for after the baby's birth. Knitting, crocheting, or other hobbies can also be distracting.
Ask for Help
If you are having a hard time physically or emotionally, ask for support from your family, friends, or healthcare provider. You may be shouting on the inside, but unless you tell someone, they may not know how you feel. If you are having feelings of anxiety or depression, talk to your doctor.
Do Something Nice for Yourself
A massage, manicure, or trip to the hair salon are all good ideas to treat yourself at the end of pregnancy. If you can't convince baby to come out and play, at least mommy should have a good time.