A few things that I have tried at the end of each of my three pregnancies! Did these help? I believe so! Some are backed up by scientific research, some may not be…
I believe all these contributed, to some extend, for a better me, calmer me, happier me giving birth sooner.
Are you reading this out of curiousity? Are you expecting? And expecting, and expecting… Maybe you feel a little bit discouraged? Are you feeling down, even desperate? I can totally relate! I send you strength and love! Take a few deep breaths, I am here for you.
Your due date
We do know due dates are just approximate dates, not at all exact science. Yes, nowadays we have access to very precise ultrasounds. Yet, no doctor, midwife, or other professionals can tell you exactly when your precious babe is arriving.
You already know that there are various ways to calculate your due date. This post by Alexia Leachman is very helpful for calculating due dates. For my first pregnancy, I only used online calculators that gave me due dates within only one-week difference but the second and third time around I used the methods Alexia talks about. Then, I came to realize that due dates are more like due weeks or a due month.
Take some time now and try calculating your due dates. What did you get? How do you feel now? Did it bring some relief or more stress? Do you feel Impatient? Take a few minutes and let it sink. Yes, you have the right to feel all kinds of feelings. Moreover, feel them with the intensity that normally accompanies our pregnancy journeys.
Due dates are periods but we are given a date and we focus on it. It plays an important role, doesn’t it? Especially if yours is approaching. I have been there: everyone is asking- what feels like ten million times a day- if the baby has made an appearance yet. As the pressure builds up, your fears, questions, and doubts skyrocket. The people around you grow more uneasy and even if they are trying to keep it to themselves, your radar is strong and despite your awareness, you seem to absorb their fears.
Depending on your birth choices, you might be facing additional pressure from your medical team. Despite the common goal being the mother’s and baby’s safety and wellbeing, we sometimes get stuck in a me-versus-them scenario. I know how unsettling it may feel to be having discussions about induction.
You are not alone. I have been stressed around my due dates and because my babies “were late”. My three babies arrived later than their due dates- 13 days, 5 days, and 2 days later.
Let us take a minute here and take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes and tell yourself that all your feelings are valid. Feel free to take as much time as you need to explore your emotions. Staying calm and focused is a big part of pregnancy and preparation for birth. Yet, we are human and it is so normal to sometimes feel anxious. As long as the strong negative feelings are not predominant, experiencing a vast range of emotions is not going to harm your baby.
Here I share what I have tried to help my body and mind relax so that labour starts sooner. I am not a medical professional giving advice but simply sharing my experience.
Keep your diet healthy, stay hydrated. You need energy- good energy before, during and after labour!
After week 37 I started eating 7-8 dates a day. There seems to be some research on the benefits of dates -read more about the interesting finds here.
Yes, I ate pineapple. There seems to be not much research (check here).
I drank a lot of raspberry leaf tea and it is one of my favorites now.
Do what feels good and comfortable. Walking, exercising, climbing stairs, or anything else that your health provider confirms. It is not a good idea to over-exhaust yourself. Listen to your body and take into consideration the season, the environment, external and internal conditions.
With my first and second, I did more walking and stair climbing, while with my third I did more exercises at home- yoga, exercise ball, stretching, walks, hip circles, etc. because it was a hot humid summer during a pandemic. Whenever I had the energy, I did some more engaging HIT exercises. Read more about how I prepared for birth here.
A bigger size yoga ball was one of my favourite items. I often used it instead of a chair. Hip circles, light bounces, other pregnancy-safe ball exercises, and stretching helped me stay energized throughout the day. Knowing that I was physically and mentally prepared for labour was a big factor and staying active really helped with that. Knowing I am doing my best- feeling ready and waiting till the baby was ready to come, too.
Lucky me- my clinic offered moxibustion treatments to help induce labour and they thought me to do moxibustion treatments at home, too. I loved the warmth at the moxibustion points and the scent made me feel relaxed and taken care of. I could immediately feel the uterus contracting- it was reassuring to know that labour was approaching. Having moxibustion was not only relaxing but also easy to do and the practice contractions contributed to having a fast smooth delivery.
Aromatherapy, relaxing music, massage turned out to be great and helped me chase away worries and fears. I say Relax! but it is easier said than done! That is why you need a plan- be honest with yourself, accept your limitations, recognize your anxious thoughts and release them; know how to help yourself feel happier and more confident. Stay calm and focused- again, explore and see what works best for you.
Acupressure was highly effective, too- I spent some minutes throughout the day applying pressure and I truly believe it helped. Finding someone experienced to show you or to do it for you is the key! Having loved ones help you with that is a great way to bond. Once the birth begins, acupressure can be useful to help you deal with the sensations through the contractions, relieve some discomfort and release tension.
Daydream- why not! Very refreshing for an anxiety-inclined person like me.
Have fun, laugh, smile- you need those endorphins! I am often too serious and I do not tell jokes. I have to be intentional and find ways to keep my spirits high. Focus on the little things that make you happy!
Plan your day, fill your schedule with activities meaningful to you. Do what you feel like! At the same time, try to slow down and leave plenty of time to daydream. Make this time memorable!
Physical affection- whatever feels good and helps you relax. Help your body releases the hormones you need. Love and feel loved- any way that feels right and good for you.
Appreciation and gratitude- a great habit to build; useful beyond pregnancy and birth. Writing things down is considered the best but do what is easy for you- jolt down, journal, take notes on your phone or just say out loud what or whom you are grateful for. Sometimes I just make a list in my head.
Accept support – this is so important! You can do all things by yourself and you can do them well, I know. But allowing other people to take over and help you doesn’t mean you are weak. You are worthy. Accept help and be grateful! I cannot lie to you, I am really bad at asking for assistance and I have to intentionally work on it.
Avoid situations and people who stress you- You are not bad or egoistic for stepping out of situations that are not beneficial to you right now. Yes, you do not need to hear one more time “No baby yet?”
Get honest, stay connected
Talk to the baby- anything goes, even if you may feel a little uncomfortable doing so. Tell them you want to meet them, sooner. Tell them you are ready. Check how they are doing and if they feel ready to arrive. (this is an idea I first heard about in Alexia Leachman`s podcast)
Write letters and messages- write to loved ones letters that you may or may not send. No matter what you decide to do, these are great for clear communication or just for keeping random thoughts organized, or for releasing trapped worries.
Remind yourself that the baby is coming, you are doing your best, you will not be pregnant forever. Anticipate labor- time to get excited! And why not write a list of all the great things in your life now and those to come!
Remember this time! It is never coming back! Looking for ways to make it memorable is definitely worth it! Imagine how you will tell stories of the time when you are waiting for your precious baby to arrive! Going back in time you will recall the atmosphere- where you were, what you did, the tastes, your body sensations, and the energy constantly flowing between you and your little one. Magical!
If you are waiting for your baby to arrive, patiently or impatiently, I tell you- waiting is tough, and worth it. If your intuition is telling you, however, that you should not wait and you need this baby out right away, I say, trust your motherly instincts. No matter where you are on your journey, please remember there are many ways, countless suggestions, limitless possibilities, and loads of advice but there is only one you, and you know the right answers for yourself. Just listen and trust!