On pregnancy and birth

I’m all awash in thoughts of birth and pregnancy because I just finished assisting a birth class for the doula/childbirth educator/lactation consultant extraordinaire, Janaki Costello, and every couple of days we hear from a new couple who has just had their babe. I’ve been talking with one of the moms from the class who is, today, 7 days after her estimated due date (EDD) and who has been challenged with frightening pressure to have an induction much earlier than she expected. And nothing about her un-complicated, textbook pregnancy has changed. Other than going past her EDD.

Even though this photo was taken a month before I was full term, it accurately expresses the following: "Why the hell won't my body go into labor?!"

Her experience rings so true with my own–J was born (a beautiful, healthy 8lbs 2oz) 13 days after my EDD, and the pressure I felt to induce and my exposure to terrifying-dead-baby-scenarios skyrocketed in those few days. Why wasn’t my body going into labor? How did my perfectly healthy and complication-free pregnancy suddenly look like a train wreck to my OBs office on the day I passed the 40 week mark? And didn’t it make any difference at all that I passed my non-stress test with flying colors (meaning that they tested the baby when I was 40 weeks and 5 days and everything looked healthy and great)?

I’m all for making a decision informed by a variety of things, including statistical evidence, but I know there are many ways to talk with a 41 weeks pregnant lady about reasons for considering an induction other than, “Well, you don’t want to have a stillborn baby, do you?” As you might imagine, body-gripping worry and fear just don’t create ideal conditions for life in general, let alone helping a woman’s body go into labor on its own. Wow. I digress.

Anyhoo, talking with this 7-days-after mom has renewed my desire to create a pregnancy resource page, with some specific information for women who go well past their due dates. And I’ve already started page on birth too. So this one’s for you, 7-days-after mama. I’m cheering for you and your capable uterus.

9 thoughts on “On pregnancy and birth

  1. Wanted to share a great string of responses I got from the fans of the Get Born Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/getbornmag where I and a lot of other awesome ladies post blogs. I asked them this:

    did any of you have your babies after their estimated due date? how did your ob/midwife talk to you about it?

    i’d love to hear your answers too.

    Michelle: Three weeks late! My ob let me lead the way 🙂

    Heather: Yep, two and a half weeks late, but mostly due to duress, since the OB’s overseeing the midwives I’d chosen for my fourth birth forbid me from receiving prenatal care from the midwives at week 36 due to my desire to have a VBAC, though they’d previously approved it at week 26. It was a nightmare, and my body went into survival mode–hence, no labor. I finally went into labor by forcing myself to have contractions and really centering myself thanks to one of the midwives following me out of the hospital after a non-stress test and telling me to focus. I delivered that night, in about two hours. To this day, when I tell the story, people say, “They let you go that long? they LET you have a VBAC?” And I always reply, “Do I seem like the sort of girl who asks permission? It was never their call.”

    Stephanie: I had extraordinary pressure from my O.B. by the time I reached the 41 week mark with my first, and she did convince me to induce. After that, I decided home birth was for me. I knew I wouldn’t get that kind of pressure with a professional (home birth) midwife.
    And 40 weeks? That is a completely arbitrary timeline. It has no scientific backing as the “correct” time for a baby to be born. It isn’t until 42 weeks that the statistics start to show the need for greater watchfulness with baby’s health.
    Birth is all about stepping into the unknown. For the mother AND for her care providers. It isn’t something we like to do, least of all the care providers, which certainly affects the kind of care we receive. What can we discover about ourselves when we embrace the mystery?

    Anne: I was a full week late with my first. My ob was fabulous. “I’m not going to induce you just because you might be tired of being pregnant.” (I did not request induction, for the record.) Her position was that the baby wasn’t ready, and if you start messing around you usually end up with a cesarean. She said to come back in a week and they’d do a non-stress test. The baby was born about 18 hours before the test. I loved that doc.

    Anne: I agree with Stephanie that the 40-week mark is a guideline. The first time you see that date come and go, the more you understand. 🙂

    Marcy: All three of my kids were two weeks late. Two were induced. The first was induced because the non-stress tests were not good. I think he would have been a stillbirth had we not had intervention — he is also autistic. (I suspect we partly see a rise in autism because we have an increase in birth interventions). The second one was just late. The third was induced because I was as uncomfortable at 42 weeks as I could imagine being. I was never pressured, but I was also told that past 42 weeks increased the chance for problems. All three were vaginal deliveries.

    Maria: I had one 2 weeks late, one 6 weeks early and one induced

    Kyndra: One week late and two weeks early. Both perfect and healthy but totally different birth experiences.

    Laura: Over 2 weeks. OB said to sit tight. Kept going to work. Finally, went to get a “final” haircut and putter in local shops. That did the trick!

    Jessica: ‎13 days late (and penciled in for induction two days later), 10 days late, and 8 days late (penciled in for an induction two days later). can’t tell you how grateful i am that i didn’t end up induced–guess they just needed the threat, eh? oh, and first was high-meconium, third was light meconium.

  2. I had a completely normal pregnancy, until I edged closer to my due date, then it seemed as though the OB office wanted to find something abnormal. One day past my EDD, (on a Monday) OB suggested we plan for an induction by Thursday (because that weekend was Christmas, hmmm…), I suggested we wait another week, and received a lot of pressure not to do so from the OB’s office. At one week past my EDD, again a discussion about an induction (that weekend was New Year’s), again I told them I was going to wait, again I was given very weird (read:wrong) info about the rate of still birth in post-term babies. At two weeks past my EDD, I agreed to an induction, but only if they used certain drugs I was (sort of) comfortable with. My baby was born at 16 days past my EDD by Cesarean. I still believe that, had I waited just one or two more days, labor would have started on its own, and my baby would have been born vaginally without the need for an induction, C-section, etc. Incidentally, my baby never showed any signs of distress before, during or after her birth. If there’s another baby in my uterus’ future, I’m just going to wait until it comes out on its own!

  3. I wanted to stop in and say hello (we met at Susie’s). I love all of the info and resources you have here – especially now that I am almost 5 months along. I have to say that I personally never had to worry about an induction on account of going past my EDD (I have never even gone to term) but I know a ton of people who have gone past 40 weeks and then gone into labor just before they were scheduled to be induced. I agree with your sentiment that the decision should be made based on careful monitoring, etc. not simply on timing of gestation.
    I can also understand a little bit of what drives many OB’s to get trigger happy. Although it is thankfully very rare, I know a few tragic stories of apparently healthy babies that died suddenly at the end of a pregnancy. I can imagine as a doctor that it would take just one experience like that to make you incredibly cautious for life.

    1. I totally hear you about the OB experience. i have a good friend who is an OB and she delivered a baby who died somewhere in that “post dates” category, so she was incredibly worried when i went past 40 weeks. i also think that there is a way to convey information without fear-mongering. and stay in touch with things that you find particularly helpful in terms of pregnancy/birth/parenting resources. i love being a clearinghouse for that kind of thing!

  4. As a Bradley Method mom I was absolutely against induction. My periods were quite irregular, and they used my first ultrasound to give me an EDD, but my LMP still peppered my charts, indicating I was 10days farther along that my ultrasound said. When I switched doctors at 30 weeks, the new OB totally latched onto that earlier EDD from my LMP. Luckily I kept measuring small, so the OB and nurse practitioner were okay to let me slide past that first EDD. Then the “real” one came, and they started looking back and thinking I was now 10 days overdue. The OB told me at my next appt that we’d have to get serious about discussing an induction…. I went into labor about 6 hrs before that appt, 4 days after my later EDD – or 15 days after the 1st EDD. 7lb 13oz baby, no jaundice, healthy as all get out. If I’d been pressured and agreed to the earlier date, no doubt the baby would have barely been 6lbs, and maybe health issues too???

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Holly. Your story really highlights how imprecise due dates are! I just had a friend who delivered her baby on her “due date” and she was 9lbs 2oz. Everyone was shocked. I think she might have been further along than she or anyone else thought.
      How wonderful that you went into labor on your own–did you do anything that helped to start it or was it spontaneous?

  5. Hello…..I stumbled across you this evening and want to thank you. Your honesty is comforting at a time when I am feeling quite isolated. 41 weeks, second baby and angst about her arrival and why she is taking so long to get here….Do not want to do any form of induction- just want little one to decide that the time is now:-) I am throwing a message out in a technological bottle and hope it washes up on your shore. I could sure use a kindred spirit to sit with.

    1. I’m so glad you stumbled! I was 41 weeks just 4 weeks ago and feeling that same angst. Just know that you are not alone at all. Not sure if you read my last few posts about waiting and the beautiful birth that we wound up having…but if not, they might help you feel a bit less isolated.
      Keep me posted on your story. Here’s to you and your capable uterus!!!

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