Facebook reminded me today that three years ago I was heavily pregnant at 40 weeks and 5 days with my second baby, patiently waiting for him to make his move and at the same time keeping up with the normality of family life. It was a challenge, more emotionally than anything else.
I had passed my due date with the intention of giving my baby the time that it needed and not letting the anticipation and excitement of others get to me. I was feeling physically well, not too sore and like everything was 'normal' although everyone around me seemed to begin to think otherwise. 'How come are you STILL pregnant?', 'How long are they going to LET you go?', 'Why haven't they induced you YET?' were just some of the common questions I heard wherever me and my well sized bump went. At the same time my 2.5 year old toddler still demanded all of my attention and expected the same kind of physical 'exercise' that he was used to and so I kept on kicking the soccer ball across the playground until well after 41wks.
It was clear that we had left the realms of our 'old' family life but hadn't arrived in our new one as a family of four. We were in the 'in between' stage of pregnancy, a space that I get to observe with my clients almost every time and today consider a necessary element of your emotional preparation for giving birth. Almost always these final days or weeks of pregnancy are experienced as an emotional challenge, bringing up lots of worries or fears that we had thought to have left behind already, feeling the challenge of caring for a toddler whilst also trying to 'relax into labour' if this is not our first baby and trying to remain patient whilst the pressure 'to do something' from our care provider increases if we have reached or passed the due date. Women feel vulnerable at this stage, our bodies are hormonally preparing to give birth, we feel excited and a little nervous at the same time and are quick to wish this time of 'waiting' to be over. But here is what I want to say to you mama: Embrace, soak up these final days of carrying your baby with all its emotional intensity, allow yourself to go deep into the feelings that are coming up for you because I believe they are nature's way of making you open or 'soft' (this word often comes to my mind when I see women ready to give birth), ready to surrender and take you past the point of thinking that 'you are in control'. Because this is a time when you are not and that's a good thing.
Some suggestions for the magical in between stage of pregnancy:
- Take each day as it comes. Don't think too far ahead or what will happen if you haven't given birth by a certain day. All you need to know is that you're pregnant today.
- Try and let go of expectations as to by when you 'should have had your baby'. You have no influence over this unless you are medically intervening.
- Don't place your life 'on hold' but plan your days as normal...until you are in labour. That's what I do as a doula too - I make plans and live my life as normal until I get 'that' call which means I need to stop doing what I'm doing.
- Give space to all the feels of this special time. Let those tears roll, talk to your hubby, best friend or doula if you're lucky to have one. The more you allow these feelings or fears to be present, the less likely they will show themselves with even more power during the birth.
- Consciously enjoy feeling your baby inside, these moments will soon be gone. The connection between you and your baby will never be like this again. Know that every day inside your belly is a valuable day for baby.
- Remind yourself that a normal pregnancy is considered anything up to 42 weeks and your baby has every right to be taking the time that it needs to be born (unless you are given clear indicators about YOUR baby that suggest intervention - not general statistics that don't look at you or your baby as an individual).
I have seen the effects of this magical in between stage many times over and often enough can tell when women have moved past the point of having an expectation as to when they give birth or being 'in control'. And usually this means for me that I will soon need to stop my life and be by a woman's side as she embraces the power of birth and welcomes her baby.
To find out more about my work with families across the Central Coast as a birth & postnatal doula check out my website or don't hesitate to get in touchh...I LOVE meeting new families and having an obligation free chat about the 'magic' of dedicated support at this special time of welcoming a new family member.