I’m overdue, now what?

This is the second post in a three-part series about the pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond.

You’re so excited that the end of your pregnancy is coming, and you can’t wait to meet your new baby. Unfortunately, that due date comes and goes and you can’t help but feel a little deflated that baby is not here yet.  The endless messages from friends and family checking in to see if you’ve had your baby makes you feel even a little more disheartened.

Rest assured… some of us of are slow cookers and some of us are microwaves.  What I mean is that a baby is ready to be born sometime between 37 and 42 weeks.  A due date is only an estimate of when baby will be born!

Wondering why I’m talking about this?  Right now my friend is 5 days overdue and she called me last night because her doctor wants “to get things going” by inducing her.  Yes, she is uncomfortable physically, but there are no medical reasons for an induction for her nor her baby.  She asked me for my opinion, so this is what I told her…

“Let your labour begin on its own, progress on its own accord, and remember it is not something to be managed but manages to work!” (I heard this last year from Penny Simkin the guru of birth.)

When labour starts, your body has kick started an increase in the production of oxytocin and endorphins in your body.  Oxytocin  is known as the “hormone of l-o-v-e”.  Not only is it responsible for contractions, it triggers nurturing feelings and behaviours.  The increase in oxytocin sends clears messages to your body to increase the production of endorphins.  For those of us who have ever done a crazy workout and feel that euphoria of pleasure and a burst of more energy, those are your endorphins hard at work.

So back to question of why not to induce?  When induced, the message system of oxytocin and endorphin production is interfered with.  Less oxytocin and less endorphins equals an increased need for pain medication. Therefore, the likelihood of more medical interventions goes up dramatically.

Remember how oxytocin is that hormone of l-o-v-e?  Less oxytocin also equals more risk of breastfeeding challenges and postpartum depression.

Labour is not something that happens to you, it is something your body knows how to do!

I also told my friend to check out Lamaze’s 6 steps to Healthy Birth Practices.

  • Let labour begin on its own
  • Walk, move around and change positions throughout labour
  • Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support
  • Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
  • Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push
  • Keep mother and baby together – it’s best for mother, baby and breastfeeding

So after a great chat, she feels she has the knowledge and a plan to share with her doctor.  She is going to wait for her body to start labour.

I am a phone call away if she wants a walk, a massage, a tea or an ear of encouragement as she waits patiently for her body to start birth.  After all, isn’t learning patience just a perfect parenting lesson and overall life skill anyway? Believe me you’re going to need a lot of it as your baby grows 🙂 Remember, not all things can be or are meant to be planned, but just trusting that they will work!

Share your experience:

For more tips and hints about pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:

For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest author:

Jeanell Vanbesien is a Public Health Nurse with Halton Region’s Early Years Program who teaches prenatal classes and sits as chair of Halton’s Prenatal Network. The focus of Jeanell’s work is to increase women’s confidence and decrease their fears for birth and their parenting journey.

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