What to do when your baby is ‘overdue’
Just because you have been given a due date, it doesn’t mean that your baby will arrive on that date, nor does it mean that your baby is overdue. The date we are given is not the date your baby will arrive, it’s an approximate idea of when your baby will be ready to be born. Did you know that only 5% of babies are actually born on their due date? Recent research shows that the time a baby is born in relation to their due date and differ by up to 5 weeks. 5 weeks! In fact statistically speaking the majority of babies are born in the 7 days following their due date, and a not an insignificant number up to and beyond what’s known as ‘term’ 42 weeks. Did you know that across the Channel in France, women’s due dates are calculated differently giving them a extra seven days. Physically we are not so different from our european neighbours.
A women’s due date can also vary according to her ovulation cycle, her ethnicity, diet and age amongst other things. You can find more about how due dates are calculated here. Scans are also most most accurate early on, the later and later you have scans the less accurate they become. So if you scan dates are changed later in your pregnancy, take it with a pinch of salt.
Many women are anxious about induction, they’ll have heard all sorts of horror stories, perhaps some good ones as well. Unless there is a medical reason for induction though, you have to question whether your baby is ready to be born. If you are induced at 40 weeks and your baby isn’t ready to come out for another 2, that makes them 2 weeks early. If you are over 35 and induced at 39 weeks, it can be as much as 3. Also relevant is that there is an intricate hormonal process triggering the start of labour. We don’t know for sure what that is but recent research suggests that labour hormones are triggered when the baby’s needs outstrip the mother’s ability to provide nourishment in utero. There is a cascade of hormones that trigger an increase in oestrogen, oxytocin and, importantly, cortisol in the baby’s lungs preparing them for birth and the world outside the womb.
But, you’ve done hypnobirthing, you trust your body? Right? Or have you begun to question that your body knows what it’s doing. Have you been giving an appointment to discuss induction. Have you already had the induction chat? Are you feeling scared?
If some or all of this is true, I want you to cast your mind back to your hypnobirthing class. You will have learned about adrenaline and oxytocin, you will have learned how adrenaline and fear and inhibit oxytocin, slowing contractions down or stopping them altogether. So when the consultant tells you that you of the increased risks, you start to doubt yourself, and the prospect of that induction you really didn’t want is looming, which hormone is released? Yes, adrenaline. At 41 weeks when a woman is more than likely to go into labour within hours or days, she is instead discussing how to artificially start labour, and this is usually an unsettling experience triggering adrenaline. These types of interventions or thoughts can be counter-productive and counterintuitive.
At 41 weeks, you should be free of any anxiety or worry, you should have the freedom to tune into your instincts and to trust your body. This is a time to be mindful.
The Mindful Hypnobirthing Approach when your ‘ baby is overdue’
- Trust your body, if there is no medical indication for induction really weigh up the risks and benefits.
- Do your research, check out the resources below both anecdotal and research based.
- If you have a to do list. Finish it!
- Take time to listen to your hypnobirthing mp3s every day.
- Take a day trip with your partner or family, somewhere in nature, or somewhere you feel connected and happy. Get away from it all for 12 hours.
- Explore reflexology, acupuncture or other complementary approaches, or even book yourself into a spa for the day. But importantly just relax and let go, baby will arrive when they are ready.
- Remember you have choice.
Research and Reading
‘Induction: Do I really need it?’ The association for improvement in maternity services published this brilliant booklet which you can buy or download onto a kindle.
Familiarise yourself with the NICE guidelines on Induction
A research based article by Henci Goer on induction
Read this story in The Guardian about 10 month pregnancies.
Watch this video of a couple who did have an induction for medical reasons and learn how they did it.
Mindful Hypnobirthing Affirmations
You can say these affirmations everyday to build your trust in your body and to prepare your unconscious for birth
- I trust my baby will come when he/she/they are ready
- I relax and enjoys the last few hours and days of pregnancy
- As I relax my body softens preparing me for labour
- As my body softens my cervix begins to thin and dilate comfortably
- I relax my jaw and hands, my pelvis relaxes, I sink into my body
- I confidently trust my body and my baby, they know what to do
- I let go of my anxiety as I turn my mind happily to the birth
- As I left go my body softens more, I release oxytocin
- As oxytocin rises my contractions begin gently, softening and dilating my cervix
- I am ready to meet my baby
You can read a visualisation here that was written by Sophie over 5 years ago on an old blog.