Waiting for your baby’s arrival is full of excitement and anticipation, but when your due date comes and goes with nary a sign of labor, many mamas find themselves growing impatient or worried. It can feel like you’re going to be pregnant forever!
Assuming that you have had a healthy pregnancy, rest assured that your body and your baby know what they are doing. You will go into labor when you are both ready. It’s important to remember that due dates are just an estimate, not an expiration date. In fact, very few babies are born on their due dates. Some are born earlier and some later. In particular, first time moms are more likely to carry past their due dates.
It would be more accurate and less stress-inducing if practitioners would start giving mothers a “due month,” rather than a due date, because giving birth anywhere between 38-42 weeks is considered completely normal. If your baby is born at 41 weeks gestation, he or she isn’t actually late to the party!
Many parents begin to worry when they draw close to the 42 week mark, as this is the time at which most caregivers say that they have to induce if you haven’t gone into labor. If you find yourself drawing near this marker and are feeling the pressure of a looming induction, there are several things that should be done.
You should be doing fetal kick counts daily. How your baby is moving is one of the best indications of well-being. You should also re-check the accuracy of your due date. Are your menstrual cycles regular? If not, were modifications made for your cycle length in the calculation of your due date? Are you uncertain about when you conceived? These are questions that are worth exploring, as many mothers who have been pressured into inductions for their overdue babies have given birth to infants who were clearly not post-dates upon examination.
If your caregiver has not suggested it, you should request a biophysical profile and non-stress test, too. This relatively non-invasive test uses a number of markers determined by ultrasound to make sure that your baby is doing well and that pregnancy can safely continue. Having a BPP with a score that shows that your baby is healthy may put your care provider at ease about holding off on induction.
Before you know it, labor will begin, and it won’t be long until you meet your baby. In the meantime, try to enjoy these last few days that your baby lives inside of you. Never again will you be so completely inseparable, and that’s a beautiful thing.