The Waiting Game
What’s the point of due dates, really? Only five percent of babies are born on their due date, and approximately 70 percent come “late,” especially first-borns. My due date, it came and went, and no baby yet.
By Shannon Gallagher
What’s the point of due dates, really? Only five percent of babies are born on their due date, and approximately 70 percent come “late,” especially first-borns. My due date, it came and went, and no baby yet. It’s just not fair: It’s as though you have the finish line in sight, and as you approach, they keep moving it back. Everyone assures me that no one has been pregnant forever — I am convinced I will be the first.
So I wait. Given my proclivity to immediate gratification, this waiting game is hard, made harder by the fact that my usual summertime diversions aren’t quite appropriate. Last summer, between working four jobs, climbing, a new obsession with skydiving, and music festivals from California to Connecticut, I barely stood still — now, I’m lucky if I can stand at all (for very long at least). But the best thing I’ve found for these last days of waiting is to try to stay busy… and try to do everything in my power to bring on labor, no matter how silly.
At first I started going for regular massages to help ease the pains of my rapidly changing pregnant body. But a good prenatal massage could be just the thing you need to encourage labor: If your massage therapist knows what they’re doing (which they should) there are a few pressure points they can work that may bring on labor. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll be so relaxed you probably won’t care, at least for an hour or two.
As difficult as it may seem to (a) get motivated, and (b) comfortably execute your plan, long walks are an excellent way to kill time. It’s good to move your body, and many a woman has reported going into labor during or shortly after a little trek. Take a stroll around your neighborhood, or take advantage of easy trails in your area. I like Poet’s Walk in Red Hook — it’s Hudson Valley beauty at its best, and I’m convinced the hills can be particularly persuasive. Just make sure to bring water with you, and a cell phone if you’re venturing out solo.
“Make plans,” my doula said. “It’s okay if you have to cancel them.” Socializing really helps — have a friend come visit for the weekend, make lunch or dinner dates, go to movies. I find it beneficial to connect with people “on the outside,” and by outside I mean outside my head. Conversations about non-baby related things offer a welcome distraction from the “when will I go into labor” train of thought, and remind me that while I will be a mom any day now, I’m still me.
I love trashy magazines. Few things make the time go by quicker than some good old fashion gossip. Perhaps because it is about as mindless as one can get — reading about the lives of people who have nothing to do with you whatsoever. No problem solving, strategizing, moral posturing, or decision-making required. If it works in an airport, it surely works on afternoons (perhaps post-walk) when you need to kick up your swollen feet, zone out, and survive a few more über-pregnant hours. Take advantage of the time to read, watch movies, or nap — pretty soon you’ll be wishing you had a few extra hours to kill to catch up on sleep (or fall fashion).
A couple weeks ago, my midwife told me I could start taking evening primrose oil. An herbal supplement that helps ripen the cervix, she claims it makes you less likely to go way past your due date. I’ve been taking mine religiously — again, without results, but it can’t hurt in my book. Raspberry leaf tea is another supposed friend of labor. High in calcium, it also helps ripen the cervix, and shouldn’t be consumed in early pregnancy. (Please consult your midwife or OB before trying either of these.)
Sadly, my most effective way to pass the time is a nice case of strep throat. You feel so lousy giving birth becomes the last thing you want to do — I’m begging the baby not to come, at least not this weekend. Of course, with my luck, that’ll be the cue she’s been waiting for.