If you may, please allow me to indulge in an important and hopefully helpful rant today. My intentions are in good faith, much like the people who my rantings are unfortunately having to be directed at. My aim is merely to help protect many pregnant women out there (my friends and clients included), who are in their final weeks or days of pregnancy.
This an incredible time for women, who, after months of growing their little human inside them, are now so close to meeting their precious bundles. They will hopefully be feeling calm and relaxed as their hormones begin to shift for the birth and bonding ahead. Either that or they’ll be frantically cleaning the house from top to bottom and changing their mind, (again), about the colour of the paint in the nursery. However, both of these states are completely normal for the final few days and weeks of pregnancy.
In order for women to have a calm and positive birthing experience, they need to be feeling calm and positive themselves. And they probably were feeling this way until their so-called Due Date arrived. Because on this magical day, everything changes. Unless that baby appears ‘on schedule’, (which by the way is highly unlikely considering only 5% of babies actually arrive on their Estimated Due Date); everyone starts pestering the calm and positive mum about where their baby is. I know that these comments are all heart felt and expressed with only the best and excitable intentions, but even seemingly simple comments, such as, “have you felt any signs yet?” can begin to muster up doubt and stress in a mother’s mind.
This pressure also builds up from the medical profession too. It will already be in a woman’s notes that a sweep is offered at their 40 week appointment and they will begin to discuss, and even book, an induction date. Now many people seem to think of a membrane sweep as a standard and minor routine procedure, however, it is an intervention and a form of induction. If you’re baby is nearly ready to come, then a sweep may speed labour along, (although it can possibly make that labour longer too). However, if you’re baby was nearly ready to come anyway, why interfere? If on the other hand the sweep is unsuccessful, then this will only add extra stress and worry to a woman about why it didn’t work.
Try to remember that baby will come when baby is ready. That is unless there is a medical issue in which case this would be detected through monitoring the baby’s movements and heartbeat. So pressure is also mounting from people who up until now, had referred to this magical date as merely an Estimated Due Date, but are now treating it as a set date from which to count how ‘late’ a baby is. And a day from which to start telling you the apparent risks of a ‘late’ baby. There is no such thing as a ‘late’ baby- The World Health Organisation states that a normal pregnancy can be anywhere between 38-42 weeks long.
So after all this, that calm and happy mum-to-be is now becoming more stressed and more anxious with every message or midwife appointment she has. And a stressed and anxious woman won’t be able to produce the hormone oxytocin, which is vital for initiating labour. So without oxytocin flowing, and with adrenaline pumping due to stress, labour is actually being inhibited from starting. The stress of texts, phone calls, Facebook posts and emails, no matter how thoughtful you think you are being, are actually interfering with the baby from making an arrival at all!
If you are a woman who finds themselves in this situation then my advice to you is this; if you can’t hire someone to screen your calls, texts and emails, then treat these so-called extra days as bonus days. If this is your first baby, make the most of time with your partner by going for dates, watching comedy, taking relaxing baths, listening to your hypnobirthing relaxations and other things that may be put on hold for a while once baby comes. If it is a subsequent birth, then enjoy the time with your other little ones. These are positive things you can do that will get oxytocin going as it is also known as the ‘love hormone.’
Another thing that I encourage all Hypnobirthing couples who come to me to do is, if it isn’t already too late, to start to think of your baby coming within a period of time, as opposed to a date. For example, the end of May or the first half of June. If you’ve already shared the date then perhaps tell people that you’ve had another scan and they have actually moved the date by two weeks. This will prevent anyone from mounting pressure on you as they won’t know an actual date on which to start calling.
And just briefly, whilst I am sort of talking about social media, may I please add this:
If there has not been a formal announcement of a birth of a baby on social media then it is not for you to announce it by posting a public congratulations on the new parents’ wall should you have been told about the birth.