Due Dates Are Evil

I have a problem with the way we approach birth. Due dates, in particular.

Due dates (often based on guesswork, unless you know EXACTLY the day you concieved, which for many women, is not the reality), set expectations for the birth to happen on or before a certain day. If it doesn’t happen then, you are deemed “overdue.” Yet a woman is still only 40 weeks. Since 38-42 weeks is considered full term, the “overdue” label can be discouraging to the woman and is not entirely accurate. Due dates compel many woman to get induced, often before their body is ready for labor. It’s almost humorous that we expect something as ancient and instinctual (dare I say natural?) as the birthing labor process to fit neatly into our modern regimented world of planners and convienience.

Once the due date approaches the inquiries from friends and relatives start coming in, which bless them, can only heighten the anxiousness. As if your body has the ability to say, “it’s February 14, that’s the due date, baby come out.” Our bodies are not computers and I think when we treat them as such, complications arise…

I write all of this because I myself am a bit anxious (my due date was yesterday). I admit. I can’t help it. I’m trying to stay present, enjoy my kids, the time off, the opportunities to relax. But I’m 9 months pregnant for heavens sake. I have a lot of pressure on my pelvis, I tire easily, and the watermelon that is my belly often gets in the way of things now. I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep. Or I wake up in the middle of the night and HAVE to eat something, but don’t know what. Or I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom (about 6 or 7 times). Not that I’m not enjoying this pregnancy party, but all parties must come to an end, and I wouldn’t mind if this one did, and soon.

Aside from all this, I’ve taken a certain amount of time off of work, my family is in town to help out with the birth and baby, my house is clean, blankets are washed, clothes and diapers ready. We are ready. So baby, come on, make yourself known!

Why is it that the first 8 1/2 months can go by relatively quickly, but the last weeks slow to a crawl, gradually getting longer and longer. I feel simliar to Bill Murray in Groundhog Day–will this day of waiting EVER end?

I’ve been dialated at a three for over three weeks. I checked out at a four last week and was 70% effaced. I’ve had contractions, but only sporadically and not too intense.

To distract myself I’ve done the following: 1) gotten a facial 2) got 2 massages in the past 3 days (one a deep tissue massage and had all the labor inducing pressure points worked on) 3) got a manicure and pedicure 4) went to the movies with my husband and watched The Eagle 5) walked to the park, walked at the mall, walked some more. So I’m doing my part, clearly the labor switch has not been turned on yet.

As far as my birth plan. Here it is: 1) go to the hospital when I have to get into a fetal position or child’s pose during a contraction AND have experienced this type of contraction more than a few times, at less than 10 minutes apart (I’ve never had natural contractions closer than 5 minutes apart before they break my water). 2) breathe, deeply 3) have my midwife (CNM), doula, and sister (a massage therapist) give massage as needed, particularly on the low back area 4) have the baby, without medication (yes, I can do this, it’s worth it, is my mantra). There you have it. Oh, and I’m delivering at the hospital, but a small, intimate, and very personable hospital.

I decided today that I want to refocus on presence. Not just for the birth, but for right now (hence, the present, aspect of presence). Not getting anxious, and allowing my body to take it’s time and trusting that the baby will come when the time is right for both her and me.

P.S. If you’ve had a positive experience with natural birth, could you write me a little note of why you did it, would do it again? I’m committed to doing it for a fourth time, but it wouldn’t hurt to hear some words of encouragement!


Comments


  1. lisa
    on February 22, 2011 at 9:39 pm said:

    I planned to have my son naturally, but after a full day of labor in the hospital, I needed to sleep, so I gave in (I went in on Sunday night at 10pm and he was born Tuesday afternoon at 1:30pm) and I regret that I did not have better support. With my second child, a decade later, I had a much faster childbirth (from first contraction to birth about 12 hours) and all the support I needed – I had a midwife this time and had my daughter in a birthing center. And though I was tortured by pain and though she was coming out sideways and stretching and tearing me, after she finally came out, I was so grateful and felt only love and warmth and the horrible pain had a limit and it was all over. The pain will end and the gift at the end of course worth it all and more. My daughter was very alert and very healthy and I really believe the natural route made such a big difference. You will do great! Just remember you have done it and were successful each time before this. Best wishes and health and happiness to you and your family and new baby!

  2. Anonymous
    on February 22, 2011 at 4:09 am said:

    I'm a proud mom to two beautiful girls. My older daughter is 2. I was induced with her, but still had her without pain meds. I was in labor for about four hours with her. Then she was born and I was so happy and proud of myself for giving birth unmedicated. It seems like everyone today goes for the epidural, so I was glad to know I didn't.For my second daughter who is now two months old, I went 2 days past my due date. I, too had been dialated and effaced for weeks before. I had a hard time realizing I was truely in labor with her. I kept expecting the pain to get worse. And I was taking baths to ease the discomfort I felt. I went to bed knowing it wouldn't be too much longer. I woke up at 3 am knowing it was time. We had a lot of snow and live about 40 miles fromt he hospital. We arived in the hospital at 4:20am and she was born at 4:44am. It was the most wonderful experience. a very easy birth. I loved it. And because I was so unsure of when to go to the hospital, I didn't even have a chance to get drugs. I will admit, I am very lucky to have fairly short labors.

  3. Chrissy
    on February 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm said:

    I had my last two babies natural and it was so much better both times than the epidural I had with my first. I love the endorphin rush you get with a natural birth and the fact that I don't have to deal with epidural side effects is the best part.

  4. marissa noe
    on February 18, 2011 at 1:36 am said:

    I've never had natural birth due to complications… real ones. BUT I did try with my first until I passed out at 8 cm and things ended in a c-section which I was really sad about. However, I'm grateful for modern day medicine that has let me stay alive during child birth! I feel like I would have been one to die in childbirth back in the day. BUT I really wish I could give birth naturally! My friend recently had a VBAC all natural and she used hypno birthing. She had such a great experience with it and it was very empowering. I look forward to hearing about your experience! Our bodies are such miracles!

  5. brandie
    on February 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm said:

    My third baby was born on july 12, 2009. His due date was the 6th- so I hear you, sister! I went hiking, I used enemas, acupuncture, you name it. It was super hot out, so my husband took me to Lowes because of the AC and I walked up and down the aisles for hours trying to get labor going! Funny thing is, counting back from his birthdate, he was born exactly 40 weeks after the date of my last period, so I don't put much stock in the doctors' estimated due dates. You can totally have this baby naturally, remember the trick is to listen to your body and do what it says. I ended up having him unmedicated, standing up at the foot of the hospital bed because by the time they got me out of the labor tub, pried my hands off of the safety rail (I had a death grip on that rail) and managed to somehow shuffle over to the bed, I could not lay down. That baby's head was right at the opening, and lying down would have been too much to ask. My silly husband actually tried to push me down onto the delivery bed. My doula, as gentle as possible said "go ahead and have him standing up, it's ok". Two pushes later, and John was born. 8lbs, 11 0z of screaming baby, born after 3 hours of labor. Now he's a 27 lb screaming toddler! Our nurse said that was the funnest birth she's been at in years! Just do what you need to, and tune out the less helpful "advice". Your body was created to birth babies just fine, and you can do it!

  6. Anonymous
    on February 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm said:

    I wish you all the best for your labor and delivery. I can't wait to see pictures of your new little one! Cheering you onlfwfv

  7. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on February 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm said:

    I can't respond to each of your comments, but I can say, thank you thank you for all of your words of wisdom and encouragement.Yesterday, when I was getting my pedicure, all the women in the salon were raving about epidurals. Interestingly though, they all admited to some pretty rough recoveries. You ladies have all empowered me with your words, I will be thinking of them as I go throughout my labor process. Also, as time goes by, I think of how my baby girl will be so ready to come out–healthy, chubby, with (crossing my fingers) some hair on her head :)–and I won't have the worries that some mothers have when there babies come early. She will definitely be ready!

  8. tbsomeday
    on February 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm said:

    i always wanted to go over my due date!loli might be the only onei think it's so exciting to say–i was due yesterday or last week or whateverplus babies are a ton of work once they're out!it semi miserable at the end…but still they are so content in there :)i did all three naturalbirth one was torturebirth two was very painful but i knew so much more and my recovery was so quick and amazingbirth three was BEAUTIFUL!i think a lot of it was my state of mindi listened to hypnobabies cdswhich is kind of like hypnobirthing–but with sort of a bradley twist to itlots of relaxing–positive thinkingi envisioned how my birth would go over and over againi think that really helpedand i kept repeating positive statements in my mindlike 2-3 weeks out i was 4cm then went back to 2-3cm, loli had several false alarm contractions during the night that were very intense and regular–where i was up timing them and getting ready to gobut then after an hour or two they fizzled outi think all that prep work made for an easy peasy laborbecause the morning of my 3rd baby's birth i woke with some light contractionsnoticed they were very regular–every 2-3 mini got my girls readywe all ate breakfastand they still kept comingso…i thought i should get checkeddrove to the hospitalcontractions spaced w-a-y apartfelt like a fool this was my third birthi had one light one in the half hour drivehow embarassingthey hooked me up to the monitor and i had 1 tiny contraction on the 20 min stripbut…midwife checked me and i was 10cm!!then my water brokecontractions picked up a littleand shortly after out came my little girlit was so easy i cannot even believe itthe crowning was the only tough part and that was briefso…i hope that helpsit's really true that you can have really easy births!!my advicestay positivebreath and relax away the pain the best you canif you can'tremind yourself it's only temporary…each contraction brings you closer to seeing your babywomen have birthed babies for all of timeif they could all do it without drugs you can tooremind yourself how happy you will be when it's overyou can TOTALLY do it!!good luckenjoy! 🙂

  9. Smug
    on February 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm said:

    I used the Hypnobirthing method and at the time of my labor I wasn't convinced it was working because I was still uncomfortable. However, labor for me wasn't really a big deal. I mean, it wasn't the most fun I've had in a day, but it was totally managable and after – oh the after!! Those hormones were amazing! I felt like a superhero!! Now that it is over, I know that I was in early labor most of that Saturday, but I woke up about 5am on Sunday morning and by 10 I was at 6cm and we left for the hospital. I was at 8 by the time we got settled at the hospital and I labored in the shower (using up their hot water instead of my own) and she was born after about 2 hours of pushing at 5:03pm! The time didn't seem to drag, it went by really fast. Overall it was great! I would say that I had a perfect labor and delivery. Now, in the interest of honesty, she did have some meconium aspiration so there was some issues with that, but labor itself was perfect! Good luck, have fun with it!! It is an amazing gift from God to birth life from your own body!!

  10. Amy
    on February 16, 2011 at 11:40 am said:

    Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences! I am still looking forward to getting pregnant and knowing that there are so many of you out there who choose to do it naturally is an inspiration. There is so much pressure out there to give in, and my dh doesn't totally buy in to my vegan natural lifestyle, so it can be lonely. Plus, I just moved to the South, and I am having culture shock!! Thank you for being an experienced voice of wisdom for people like me.

  11. Anonymous
    on February 16, 2011 at 11:13 am said:

    ive done it all 3 ways….csection, drugs (forget te name now…not spinal. the other) and drug free. by far the best experience was natural!!! my hospital had a jacuzzi (awesome — totally use it if you have access to one) and i found squatting really worked for me. dont be afraid to be all in your head…i had a grip on dh's hands and he whispered encouragements but nothing else penetratred my reality at the time (although dh told me later that tons of people came and went)the best thing about drug free is that you are free to move around however you need to. you can do this!!!! lots of luck!!!

  12. Courtney
    on February 16, 2011 at 5:46 am said:

    I share your soapbox- I love your birth plan. I just had baby #4 2 months ago- I walked into the hospital and had him about 5 minutes later- It was the best experience EVER!!!In labor I always get to the point where I start mentally going over all the reasons why I should go ahead and ask for that epidural, BUT I just know that that means that I am probably at 9 and ready to push that baby out.I think you'll have a fast delivery- do lots of walking while in hard labor and or squatting- let gravity help you.Congratulations- I hope you have an awesome speedy delivery.

  13. Sarah
    on February 16, 2011 at 4:22 am said:

    Natural birth is so amazing! I've had one epidural birth and one hypnobabies natural birth! Birthing naturally is so empowering! Discomfort is strongly linked to our fear. Release the fear and relax and allow your body to open! The way it was made to do!

  14. Delight
    on February 16, 2011 at 4:14 am said:

    I've been reading your blog for a while now – thanks for writing! This fellow vegan, lds mom appreciates it!I've done two natural, underwater, hypnobirths at home and loved both of them. It is amazing what a woman's body is capable of. Just trust your instincts. You can do it! The culture of inductions and epidurals is bizarre. We were created to be able to give birth naturally and pain free. Pain free does not mean easy – it takes a lot of work and concentration, but it can be done. When you have your infant in your arms, undrugged and alert, it will all be worth it. Good luck!

  15. Katrina
    on February 16, 2011 at 3:54 am said:

    good luck! i've had both my kids sans drugs, the second at home. it is great and so worth it! you can do it!

  16. Sabrina
    on February 16, 2011 at 3:43 am said:

    I have the same soapbox about due dates and induction that you do. It is hard to psychologically get past that barrier though, and it is nice to have a date to shoot for as far as preparations go. I was medicated for my first labor, after getting to a 9 w/o drugs. I was mad at myself for giving in and was determined the next time around, so I went w/o medication and even though that last half hour, especially, was pretty excruciating I was so glad I made it through. The relief was immediate and the recovery so much quicker. When I got my epidural I was itchy, shaky and out of it for hours after my baby was born. With my second, I was present and felt ready to hop off the bed and go for a walk w/in the hour. It was like night and day. I am expecting my third and when I compare the two experiences, I admit, there is still part of me that loves the idea of an epidural, but I always regain my senses and remember how finite the pain is and how much more worth it the natural labor is for baby and me. You'll get through it, just like you have you're other three, and be so glad you did. Best of luck to you, whenever baby decides she's ready to come.

  17. Sara Richins
    on February 16, 2011 at 2:52 am said:

    I think that the last four weeks are the longest!I have had the goal to go natural with all four of my labors. Still planning on going natural with number five. But do to complications, I only gone natural once. With my third. And it was wonderful. I loved being in control and feeling the birth. And I loved being able to get up and move right after the birth! Plus having all the nurse thinking I was a rock star was pretty awesome! You can do it. Even now, thinking about it scares the to death. To know you'll be in pain, and choosing to do so, isn't fun. But it is sooo worth it! Good luck! And I hope you have the labor and birth you want. And that baby girl will come out just fine! You can do it!!