I want to start by saying this is not a blog post on how to induce labour. So, if you’re looking for that, this is not that post. I have so much to say about “due date”s and when your baby is really ready to be born, but this isn’t that post either. Let’s just say — for the sake of us all being on the same page — that we understand that 40 weeks is not an expiry date, and anything up to the 42 week mark is normal, natural and healthy (clearly, a post about this whole topic is forthcoming!).
Now that you’re 40 weeks you are probably wondering every moment when your baby is coming. Wait, was that last pinch I just felt maybe a contraction? Oh, and the phone calls from all the loving friends and family who are wondering if you’ve had your baby yet since your due date was yesterday. They call or text, or email, as if you might have actually had your baby a week ago, and forgot to let them know. You’ve finished work, your life (and as just mentioned, the lives of the loved ones) is what seems to be like standing still, your baby’s room is ready, you’ve read the books, you have yourself in order and now you just wait.
For any new mom, or mom expecting another, we know this waiting is interminable. It just is.
Here’s a list of things you might want to consider during this waiting time (remember, baby will come, labour will start…):
- Food. Cook it, freeze it, store it, but also….tell anyone and everyone that will listen that you love food. Tell anyone and everyone how much of a difference having a freezer full of prepared foods will save you after your baby is born. Sometimes friends want to help and don’t know what to do or how to help. Have your bff start a mealtrain for you and get all your friends involved. You don’t know this now, but you will do pretty much anything for a home cooked, prepared-with-love meal after your baby is born.
- Speaking of food: Go out for a nice meal. Lunch, maybe, with a friend? Or a dinner date with your partner at some place you will never really see again once you have your beautiful bundle.
- Baby room: How’s it going in there? Have you washed all the little itty bitty clothes and organized things in there? If you’re anything like me, the baby room was the most beautiful room in the house (too bad we didn’t spend any time in there!).
- Let’s consider your birth bag (I’m going to call it a birth bag here because this will consider all of you that might be birthing in a hospital or at home, or a birth centre…). What to pack in that bag is another topic (stay tuned) but here’s the important part: As a doula, I must inform you of the important parts to make sure you have included. What is it that brings you comfort? Is it a necklace, a stone, a smell….something that brings you comfort. Pack it. Make sure that you have that. You will not lose yourself and what is meaningful to you when you are in labour, so bring it and make use of it. Bring your own pillow – use that to breathe deeply and smell your home, and you and all the things you love. And finally, did you bring something for lighting? Those battery operated tea lights and tall candles may never be used again, but are so good for birthing time. Nothing can catch on fire and no overhead lights need to be used. Check your bag.
- Go to a movie. In a theatre. Go eat popcorn and watch movies. Go in the day, go at night. Don’t forget the popcorn.
- Rest. While you are filling your time with things to do, remember that you are about to, as they say, “run a marathon” and you will need to conserve your energy for the big day. Rest. Nap. Sleep. Hydrate. Repeat.
- Get a manicure, or pedicure. You don’t have to go to a fancy salon – perhaps your partner or your other bff can help you out here. Reaching down to those toes is impossible, but also not even something you will be thinking about after your baby is born. Just think how nice it would be to have those things looking stellar when labour begins. What? This polish and perfect nails? Oh, nothing…I always roll like this.
- Sex. Just have sex. Have an orgasm and if your partner happens to be a man, have sex with him. Semen is good for that cervix, to kind of irritate it a wee bit and get things going. And have another orgasm. Chances are you might not feel like any of this for a while, so get it in while you can.
- Is this baby number 2, or 3? Do you have other children at home already? Take them out to buy a gift for their sibling. Have them spend some time with you piling things up in the baby’s room so they can help get ready for their baby brother or baby sister. Bringing them into this will be really helpful for you in the postpartum. A little gift from them to their sibling could be golden.
- Have you considered a maternity shoot? This is a great time to document! Oh, and ask you doula for a recommendation – chances are she has some good ones!
- Charge all things battery operated. Cameras, phones, iPads. You will be glad.
- Squat. Yes. And use the kitchen sink to do this. Don’t do it for long (just two if you’ve never done them is good)…then hydrate. Always hydrate (hint…adding lemon to your water helps you absorb better and being hydrated is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure and ease those contractions)
- If you are in Kelowna, check out the Kelowna Breastfeeding Cafe or La Leche League and hang out with some new and experienced moms who are breastfeeding. It is wonderful to see community come together in this way but also good for new moms to see other women breastfeeding and see how normalized it can (and should) be. Go to a meeting and plan to go soon after your baby is born
- Speaking of community, have you found any community resources for the postpartum time? Ask your doula, search online. I cannot stress enough how valuable it will be to have other moms to chat and hang out. Or, at the very least, to at least know where those places are should you want or need them. This is a very unique time in your life, sharing that with others who have been there, or are actively in it as well, can be something you will cherish.
- A Belly Cast? Have you thought about it? You could invite pals over, share some good food, you can decorate your belly cast. Maybe you put in the baby room. Maybe tucked away or maybe in the trash (sad face) but either way, that is a good and fun thing to do.
- Invite friends over. With or without the belly casting. It can be nice to have love and fresh energy brought into the house. Most of all, it will distract you for up to maybe even four hours!
- Make sure you’ve made a labour and birthing playlist. I usually suggest making three because you never know what you might need. Do you need to energize yourself, do you need soothing music for focus and relaxation….find something with steady beats and rhythms too.
- Practice your baby wearing techniques. Practice with a baby doll, or a neighbour kid. Or your cat….This tip is another one of those…you’ll be glad you did, tips.
- Make padsicles. Have you got those in your freezer? These are amazing pads made at home by you for recovery from a vaginal birth. I will post a DIY tutorial soon but you can look this up on the inter webs. Make sure you use a natural pad, no bleaches, no powders. I recommend NaturaCare products.
Most all, as hard as this may sound, enjoy this bit of time with your baby on the inside. This time will never come again. Oh, maybe go get yourself a fancy bottle of something for that one glass of goodness you have been waiting for the past fourty weeks.
Kathleen Baker. Birth Journey Doula Care