If there’s one bummer about being a Prenatal Yoga teacher it’s saying good bye to the cool women I get to know over the months as their bellies blossom. While I’m sad to see mammas go, I know they are embarking on a wonderful phase of life which I am honoured to be a small part of. Notably, those final weeks can become a bit wearing on anyone, and as the due date approaches and passes, some mammas become disheartened.
When this happens I take a trek down memory lane, and the good ol’ days of waiting for a spontaneous labour that began at 41 weeks and 7 days nearly three years ago. Our perfectly healthy, 7lb, 5oz girl obviously needed just a little more time in the oven and was born at 42 weeks. This was four weeks after medical staff suggested that opting for a scheduled elective caesarean would be the safest and most convenient option for our footling breech baby. I shudder to think how unprepared for life on the outside girlie would have been had we agreed to those recommendations. I believe it would have been more harmful than the inconvenience of the, to be honest, at times insanity-inducing wait we embarked upon.
Barring the occasion where a pharmaceutical induction is deemed medically necessary (and perhaps these instances are far fewer than the number performed) there is no reason to go into panic mode if you pass the 40-week mark. It is a false predictor and there can be huge variation in gestation length. There is not one woman on the history of this planet who has remained pregnant forever. Labour will happen, so why create unneccessary stress and anxiety?.
Obsession with this mythical ‘deadline” has been a huge disservice to many women and their babies. As I’ve said in class, assuming that all pregnant women should go into labour by a specified date is as absurd as designating an age when every teenage girl should start menstruating or nominating stringent and exact days for childhood development. Nature has its innate intelligence and rhythms, and sometimes we are best to leave things so divine design can do its best work.
In The Caesarean, Michel Odent refers to the traditional belief in Western Europe; “A baby in the womb should be compared to a fruit on the tree. All the same fruits are not ripe at the same time. A fruit that has been caught before being ripe will never be very fit to eat and will quickly go bad. It is the same with a baby.” (127-8)
No you won’t have a rotten baby; but could we consider there is important fine-tuning that happens in those final days in utero that we eschew in the name of impatience, false fear and health provider convenience. Research has even postulated that gestation is linked to mamma’s unique metabolism. And if that has been proven to be the case can we assume that there is an intimate and unique dance that takes place between mamma and bub as the birthing day arrives?
Lastly, if you are planning a surgical birth and there is no medical reason to schedule, consider waiting for labour to commence before going to theatre. Giving your baby the opportunity to choose his or her birthday is one of the best gifts we can bestow as mummies.
By refusing unnecessary medical interventions, very likely avoiding the cascade of intervention that results from it, making educated decisions for your body and trusting your baby you will be setting up a positive parenting pattern. Let’s develop a little more patience towards the “need to know now” world we live in, and surrender to the mystery and magic of this rare lifetime experience.