No matter how many times I tell my childbirth students that their due date isn’t set in stone, the day brings much anticipation…and angst if baby decides not to show up. Here’s the reality – baby most likely won’t make his or her debut on THE DAY. I’ve seen data from several sources saying the likelihood of having your child on your actual due date is about 4-5%.
The due date is calculated by using the date of a woman’s first day of her last period, then adding 280 days, or 40 weeks. Since we all ovulate at slightly different times of the month this system is not failsafe. Often, women are also offered an early ultrasound in their first trimester and the due date may be changed based on the size of the developing baby.
Hearing this date coming from a very official medical professional in a white coat and authoritative voice leads us to put stock in this day on the calendar. Even if your care provider tells you that it is just an estimated date (and often they don’t stress that fact) we still tend to fixate. We tell the world THE DATE, it’s circled on our calendar (maybe even with stars and hearts around it), and plans are made around this one day.
And then THE DAY arrives. The entire 24 hours pass. And you are still pregnant.
You knew it may happen. If you took my class you would have heard that baby doesn’t have a calendar in utero. You heard that a Harvard study of over 2,000 women carrying their first child gave birth on average at 41 weeks and one day – that’s 8 days past your due date (R. Mittendorf, et al., “The Length of Uncomplicated Human Gestation,” Obstetrics and Gynecology, volume 75, number 6, page 929, June 1990). You heard the analogy about the birth month – it’s normal and healthy to give birth anywhere between two weeks before or two weeks after your due date. You heard it all. But you believed none of it. Why? Because by the end of your pregnancy you felt HUGE, like baby could drop at any moment, there was no possible way you could go late based on how you feel!
But, nevertheless, it’s a day after your due date and you are still pregnant. Now what?
First off, please know that waiting for your baby to come in their own timing is the safest and best option for both you and your child. Unless there is a legitimate medical issue, inducing labor just because you are tired of being pregnant, your mother arrived in town to help you, or the clock on your maternity leave has started isn’t wise. For more information read all about induction at Childbirth Connection.
So, how do we survive these dreaded post-due date days? Make each day of waiting enjoyable! Each day give yourself a gift to help pass the time and lesson your stress. No, you won’t be 100% comfortable and relaxed, but you can give yourself something to truly look forward to each day that you wait for your little one’s arrival.
If you are reading this earlier in your pregnancy, select the ten ideas you like best and write each down on an index card or notecard. Tuck them away (make a note in your calendar where you tucked them away so you won’t forget!) so that if you reach the dreaded day after THE DAY with no baby in your arms, you can pull out your survival cards!
If you are at your due date or beyond, just pick an idea that appeals to you and do it today. Then select another idea for tomorrow.
Post Due Date Survival Ideas:
- Go for a walk with a favorite friend. Walking and staying upright is good for you physically and encourages labor. Walking with a favorite friend is good for you mentally and spiritually. Pick a few special people and schedule a walk with each of them over the next few days. If it’s bad weather, walk a mall or indoor track.
- Get a pedicure. Treat yourself and bring a friend along. The pampering will feel good and massaging the feet and ankles may help labor along.
- Go for a swim. The idea of a bathing suit is a laughable, but it’s worth it when you get in the water and buoyancy relieves all that pressure baby is putting on you. You don’t actually need to do laps, just standing in the water feels good. Take your husband or a friend, splash around and have fun!
- Take a long bath. I lived in the bath during my last weeks of pregnancy (my kids were 5 days and 9 days post due date). It was my favorite place to be! Make it special by having some music playing from your playlist, having a glass of sparkling juice in a real wine glass and a few pieces of good chocolate you can pop into your mouth as you sink into the warm water.
- Get a massage. A massage therapist that works with pregnant women can help relieve your discomforts and be a godsend! It’s a splurge for many, but makes a wonderful gift for your soul.
- Have a dance party. Invite a few friends over, have them each bring a snack, turn up the music and dance! The movement is great for you and the laughter will be the best medicine.
- Have a date with your husband. It will be awhile before just the two of you have the opportunity to relax together. Just connecting and spending time with each other can re-energize you. It’s not so important what you do on your date, but that you are together focused on each other. If you still have an appetite, go to a favorite restaurant or someplace you’ve wanted to try. Get carry out if the idea of sitting in a hard chair at a restaurant is unappealing.
- Watch a favorite movie. Pop some popcorn and throw in a movie that you can get lost in. It’s best to watch a movie from the comforts of your own home at this point if the theater seats will be uncomfortable for you. At home, lie on your side with pillows between your knees and have your husband give you a back or leg massage. Spend some time on your hands and knees doing pelvic tilts to relieve your back pressure, or sit on an exercise ball for greater comfort.
- Record yourself talking to your baby about the hopes and dreams you have for him. Think about all that you want for this child and record those precious thoughts to share with them when they are older. What a wonderful gift for you and your family to have for future years.
- Write a letter to your spouse reminding them how much they mean to you to give to them a few weeks after baby is born. The weeks after a baby is born is special but draining too. Reminding each other that you are on the same team can revive and enrich your relationship. And trust me, you won’t have time to be writing letters after the baby is born!
- Make some art. Get your creativity flowing. Even if this isn’t your thing normally, it’s fun to connect with your creativity. Invite a friend to go with you to a paint-and-sip or paint your own pottery shop. Make a birth banner if you haven’t already. My friend Nicole Nelson makes beautiful birth banners that you can purchase and then add some of your own art to it. This is a beautiful way to bring inspiration and focus to your upcoming birth. The best thing is after birth, the artwork can then be framed and put in the baby’s nursery or around your house.
- Spend some time in the kitchen making meals that you can freeze to have on hand after baby is born. Make it a party and invite a few friends over to cook with you. Make a double or triple batch and send home dinners for each family.
- Have a prayer circle. Invite your closest friends over and ask each to bring you a bible verse or write a prayer for you to mediate on over the next few days. Spend time in prayer together and share with them your struggles as you get through this time.
- Take an afternoon nap. Sleeping may be difficult at this stage but if you can relax and fit in an afternoon nap, do it!
- Spend time with God. This time of waiting and anticipation is holy. It feels like an inconvenience, but God is working. He has an exact time in mind for when you will meet your baby. Put your trust wholeheartedly into your God’s perfect timing and wait expectantly with the Lord. He can give you peace and comfort beyond understanding during these precious days and hours of waiting.