I’ve read an article, Facebook post and Instagram caption or two, about the delightful little downhill run to birth. Nearly all of them warn of the suspenseful wait as weeks 35, week 36 and week 37 slowly (ever so slowly) tick over. All the while you continue to grow and stretch to accommodate the little baby inside of you (cue frantically bouncing on that exercise ball because how much more growing can your stomach really take?).
In pregnancy, reaching 37 weeks is classed as full term. The “full term” label, in my humble opinion, is a false sense of security: or moreover, it’s a false sense of finality. Only a small percentage of babies arrive on their 40-week due dates, but an even smaller number arrive when their mother’s are ready for them.
For me, my third trimester was my favourite: hands down. I had horrendous morning sickness from five weeks, through until about 27 weeks. Right up until I gave birth I still struggled to brush my teeth without gagging, wasn’t able to progress with my Invisalign treatment (thanks plastic aligners) and had to eat pretty much first thing in the morning to avoid retching over the kitchen sink; but the vomiting and round the clock nausea had subsided early into my third trimester. I lovingly embraced the growing tummy, cramps, sciatic pain, aches and constant lower back pain… anything is better than nausea right?
But I found that with the renewed energy and feeling almost human again (I mean, realistically, how human can you feel in the last few weeks of pregnancy?), I was hit with the agitated countdown-bug as I crept closer and closer to my due date. I tried to tell myself that I’d chill out, slowly get things ready for baby’s arrival, meal prep some dinners and stay working part time to help keep me busy, but to be honest the wait is nail biting.
Any sign becomes a labour sign when you’re desperate to birth your baby. That in itself made me even more anxious because I entertained the idea of becoming overdue and having a baby right before Christmas – or on Christmas Day – or heaven forbid in 2020! I feared induction, so from 37 weeks I began trying my fair share of labour-inducing wives tales – walking sideways up the stairs, walking for long periods, standing and swaying, squats, bouncing on my exercise ball (a lot), sex (what an experience), orgasming, sniffing oils and some serious visualisation/ affirmation rituals.
As we all say with wisdom (after birth), baby’s do honestly come when they’re ready. I gave birth at 40w+1 to a healthy baby girl and as legends have it, no amount of naturally trying to induce labour actually made that day (or night) come around any quicker. In the final few weeks of pregnancy, I think it is better as expectant mothers we try and focus on our partners, our friends, our family and the present moment. I know this is easier said than done, but lap up feeling those precious kicks and movements, celebrate your last few weeks as just a couple (or family of three, four, five!) before your new addition arrives and congratulate yourself on growing and carrying your baby for the last 280 days or so… Because once labour strikes, that’s when the fun really begins.