It it’s been 40 weeks but it appears baby is yet to get the memo, Becky Dickinson offers advice on how to cope when you’re overdue
Congratulations! You have carried a baby for nine long months. But whether or not you have enjoyed every moment, or been plagued by sickness, backache and heartburn, there comes a point for every woman when enough is enough.
Your uterus has done a sterling job, but by 40 weeks all you want to do is to hold your baby in your arms, especially as that immortal due date has been engraved in your mind since your first antenatal appointment.
But what happens when that longed-for day arrives, but your baby doesn’t? For many women, the lack of labour can be accompanied by feelings of intense frustration, sadness, disappointment and even surprise.
But it’s important to remember that your due date isn’t a deadline, or an expiry date. It’s simply an estimate, a rough guide to when your baby is likely to enter the world – give or take a week or two. In fact, though babies are considered term from 37 weeks, most don’t arrive until 41 weeks, so try to keep this in mind.
Community midwife Emma Herbert says despite the anticipation, try to treat your due date as a regular day.
“Going over your due date can make your pregnancy feel like it is never ending. The best thing to do to keep your sanity is to carry on as normal; be mobile, eat and drink regularly and ensure you keep well hydrated.”
In fact, only around five per cent of babies arrive on their so-called due date. So to avoid the anti-climax of your baby not arriving on schedule, forget due date, and think due fortnight instead.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to stay sane when you have a chorus of friends and family repeatedly asking whether there’s ‘any news’, so, keep your due date under wraps and never reveal it to anyone who has a tendency to ask annoying questions – this may even include your own mother. Of course, if you’ve already told people it’s probably too late to erase the date from their minds (but something to bear in mind for future pregnancies). Also consider turning your phone off, or avoiding Facebook for a while. They’ll soon forgive you once there’s a gorgeous newborn to coo over.
Once you’ve politely told people to mind their own business, concentrate on staying busy. Staring at your bump all day isn’t going to make your waters break. So try and focus on other things instead by planning something every day for the next week: meet up with friends, book a haircut or pedicure, bake a cake, or stockpile meals for the freezer.
If you’re still pregnant the following week, make further plans. No one is going to mind if you cancel because you’re in labour. Try to plan some relaxation time too; read a book, take long baths, try gentle yoga or have a nap, because very soon you won’t have the chance. If you have other children, then enjoy quality time with them.
Finally, you may feel like you’ve been pregnant for years, but doula and antenatal teacher Cathy Williams says to enjoy it while it lasts. “We only have a few times of feeling a baby growing inside us. Treasure these last days of connection,” she says.
And remember, if you’re tired of the whole thing you can always book a midwife appointment for a cervical sweep to speed things up, or book an induction.
Want more? How to have an easier labour