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I think I’ve gone a bit mad. I’ve deleted Facebook and Instagram from my phone, because looking at both made me miserable or downright angry. Not only was I a bit fed up of being asked if the baby had arrived yet (from about 38 weeks might I add…) but I was also following people who were due around the same time as me, and as gloriously happy as I am for them having had their babes now (no seriously I am, if you’re one of those recent new-mama friends of mine reading this!), I am also experiencing totally illogical waves of utter sadness – as if my baby is never going to arrive.

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I know part of this is self-inflicted. My first baby was four days early, so naturally I think assumed that 39+3 was my gestational period and that was exactly how long it took to cook my babies. Bear in mind though that is a thought pattern that has arisen in someone who’s trained to teach and support pregnant clients in my role as a pre and postnatal personal trainer: all my training should have told me otherwise, that each and every pregnancy (and each and every baby) is different, and the date on which baby actually arrives is one of nature’s mysteries that we still haven’t been able to fully understand or predict. It just goes to show how strong those pregnancy hormones are, and the havoc they can wreak on your emotions.

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It is this emotional rollercoaster that I am struggling to comprehend as each day ticks on by. Some days I’m fine, and some days, in all honesty, I’m a blubbering mess. My rational brain knows that baby will come when she is ready, and that I don’t need to rush into induction discussions. My irrational, emotional brain is thinking the following:

  • I am a failure.
  • Something is wrong with my body.
  • Something is wrong with my baby.
  • Everyone’s going to hate me because I’m messing up plans for this weekend (brother in law’s 30th birthday that husband is meant to go to, and the small matter of my dad missing a very important rugby game at Twickenham to come and babysit for what is still currently a non-earthside baby…)
  • My body knows deep down I’m not safe so, like a wild animal sensing danger, it is holding me back from going into labour – therefore my husband is clearly planning to leave me (yes, this really has gone through my head)
  • I’m going to be pregnant forever.

I luckily have a very patient husband who’s put up with a lot of tears and ranting and had to come on a lot more walks than he’d normally be comfortable with (mainly to carry the now heavyish toddler who is awaiting her role as a big sister) and a very supportive midwife, who manages to calm me down and get me back to a happy place every time I see her. We’ve talked through ‘what happens next’, because as soon as you go overdue you have people from all angles starting to talk about induction…and that is a minefield of emotions and opinions in itself.

Like our babies, I’m the first to acknowledge that each and every one of us is different; you may feel (or may have felt) very different to me when you went overdue, and may be banging on the hospital doors as soon as you can after your due date to get induction started, but if you’re reading this and suddenly feeling under a lot of unwanted pressure for being ‘overdue’ and aren’t quite sure of what’s to come, firstly I can highly recommend having a read of this amazing post by Sophie Messager, a doula, healer and antenatal educator with bags of experience and rational thinking behind her writing:

https://sophiemessager.com/the-con-of-being-overdue/. She touches on the point that ‘full term’ is anything from 37 to 42 weeks, and stresses that we really should have a due month rather than a specific date. A mere 5% of babies are actually born on their due date…surely we can recognise how inaccurate this estimation is now!?

And secondly, if you’re feeling a bit weepy and emotional, I advise you to cocoon yourself in a happy little bubble at home: cancel your plans and just nest. Put some distance between you and all the well-meaning but overly inquisitive friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. Stock up on your rest time, because you WILL need it because your baby IS coming, and lastly, and most importantly, keep hold of your sense of humour. To help with that, I’ve compiled a list below of some of the tips I’ve been given along the way AND HAVE TRIED (yep, all of them). The sheer ridiculous size of this list made me laugh anyway, and I hope it does you too.

The underlying message I guess I’m trying to get across to you (and myself!) is by all means, give some of these a go if you want to, but do not pin all your hopes on any one of them. Your body and your baby know what to do, and it will happen when everyone is ready.

Acupuncture: I had a preparatory treatment at 39 weeks to help prepare my ‘energy’ and boost blood flow, then again at 40 and 41 weeks. The idea is that acupuncture helps to invigorate the mother’s energy and move it downwards and outwards to allow her baby to be born. The baby is also gently stirred from a relatively restful, nourishing, restorative (Yin) state to an active, moving, dynamic (Yang) state. However, as with any complementary therapy used in this area (i.e. natural labour induction), this process can take time depending on the readiness of both mother and baby. Generally, if a baby is mature, acupuncture will assist in promoting labour; if the baby is not ready, then induction will be difficult to achieve.

Bouncing on a swiss ball: the thinking behind this is that it encourages you to sit in an optimal (non-slouching) position with a slight anterior tilt to the pelvis, and by rolling around on it you are encouraging a relaxation and loosening of the muscles that surround the lower back, pelvis and hips – all of which I encourage my clients to work on in the lead up to labour. Gentle bouncing also gives a bit of encouragement for little one to head towards the exit too…

Chiropractor: couldn’t have done without this due to pelvic girdle pain (see my notes on Walking below). Although some practitioners in my industry will tell you that you need an assymetric (slightly wonky) pelvis to allow baby out due to the way they tend to lie in the womb, the last thing you need when you’re waiting for baby is any sort of pain when you move or walk, so if you are in pain – find a good chiropractor who is well versed in treating pregnant clients ASAP. I had regular adjustments on my pubis symphysis (joint at the front of the pelvis) which in turn is also said to allow baby a bit more room to get into position.

Clary sage oil: I’ve doused myself in this since week 39, had it in a bath every night and burnt through several candles that combine clary sage with lavender. Just ordered another bottle, but that’s mainly because I quite like the smell above any sort of belief that it might suddenly now work.

Crystals: (yep. Things have started to go very left field….) specifically, malachite, which is known as the “midwives stone”. Malachite is said to help stimulate contractions, ease labour pains and facilitates a safe childbirth. I have no idea how, but I bought one and it’s been by my bed or under my pillow every night since 39 and a half weeks. I even ‘charged’ this under the full moon that we had on the 31st January (see above) by placing it outside on a windowsill in direct moonlight…it’s yet to have any effect.

Curry: I think the principle applies to anything ‘spicy’ – as its meant to ‘stimulate’ the gut which in turn is said to stimulate the uterus and bring about contractions. We eat a lot of spicy food anyway, so just upped the spice content of a lot of ended up Asian spicy chicken broths and stir fries, but be warned if you’re not used to spicy food you may just end up with heartburn and a dicky tummy.

Dates: Meant to help soften the cervix. Luckily I like dates…but they are mainly just sugar and especially as you head later into the third trimester you want to try and keep blood sugar levels stable, so think about chucking these into a protein shake or smoothie if you’re going to try.

Evening Primrose Oil: Also apparently helps to soften (or ripen…though I hate that word!) the cervix due to the fact it is a dietary prostaglandin precursor. So this isn’t going to help ‘push’ you into labour, but may give a little assistance in getting your body ready for it. You can take the supplements orally, or you can *ahem* insert them into your vagina. See my comments on sex below…I stuck with the popping pills option as these things are well absorbed through the gut lining.

Full moon: We had a blue super moon on January 31st, possibly the most ‘powerful’ full moon that you can get. I sat under it and gazed at it for quite some time, I spoke to it and asked it to do its thing (told you I was going mad), and much to my husband’s annoyance I left the curtains open to let the moonlight in as I slept, but it did nothing.

Gin and tonic: pretty self explanatory. I mean this is definitely in the running for the most appreciated (if not the most appropriate) suggestion…

Homeopathic remedies: another holistic therapy system, in which magic little sugar pills give you tiny, super dilutions of natural substances. If you’re keen to give these a try, Helios (https://www.helios.co.uk) offer a childbirth kit which includes remedies for before, during and after labour, but I would recommend finding an experienced practitioner to help you work out what is best for your body. I tried caulophyllum, pulsatilla and gelsemium, none of which have yet worked…

Pineapple: also meant to help soften the cervix. Must be fresh though, so don’t just go a buy a carton of pasteurised pineapple juice that is laden with sugar…!

Raspberry leaf tea: there is always plenty of chatter amongst expectant mums and websites like Mumsnet about the importance of drinking raspberry leaf tea in later stages of pregnancy. It’s said to be able to shorten labour, result in fewer medical interventions, and even initiate contractions. However, a lot of this is myth. It can be useful to help tone uterine muscles if you start drinking it gradually from about 32 weeks – BUT if you are already quite fit and active and generally have good muscle tone already, I would definitely take caution with this, as it might result in overly powerful contractions that are difficult to bear from the start.

Reflexology: so follows the same principles as acupuncture and homeopathy – and works with energy channels. It uses the same pressure points that are used by an acupuncturist, but obviously these are massaged rather than poked with a needle. I would say though that if anything, this is an AMAZING treatment to indulge in, and by far the most effective in relaxing a frazzled, anxious mind!

Sex: semen is said to contain prostaglandins. The obvious point to make here it that this can be logistically challenging if you carry your bumps big like me, but actually (and technically speaking) you’re also better off giving a blowjob as apparently prostaglandins are better absorbed through the gut…just saying (and yes I had to double check this wasn’t just made up by my husband).

Sweep: an internal procedure during which your midwife or doctor will try to insert a finger into the opening of the cervix, and then gently ‘sweep’ her finger around, in an attempt to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac surrounding your baby from the cervix itself. This separation releases the all important prostaglandins which may then kick-start your labour. There are two caveats to note though: firstly, it may not work. I had this done just before 41 weeks…there was a slightly bigger show the next day, but nothing monumental. I then couldn’t have another one until I was closer to ten days overdue, as healthcare providers don’t really like to agitate things too much. There is however, also a risk that this procedure may break your waters, at which point the clock then is ticking for labour to start and you may find yourself with no option but to start discussions about induction or c-sections.

Walking: I’ve walked every single day of this pregnancy. Not always very far, and there have been times when I’ve probably overdone it (it should have been obvious, but pelvic girdle pain can be worsened if pushing a buggy whilst trying to control two excitable Labradors…) but it has at least got me out into some fresh air and helped me clear my mind. It’s also meant to help baby wiggle down into an optimal birthing position within your pelvis, if you manage to keep your posture in tact. Try and keep your ribs stacked over your hips and have a light pelvic floor engagement as you walk.

Walking up stairs sideways: the same principle applies as with regular walking, but walking sideways up the stairs exaggerates the tilting of the pelvis, so really maximizes the assistance you can give baby to wiggle into an optimal positon within the pelvis and encouraging them downwards. I did this religiously under the light of the full moon. I’m not saying its useless, in fact quite the opposite, as pelvic mobility is something I encourage my clients to prioritise before labour to make things more comfortable, but little one just seemed to enjoy the ride and didn’t take it as a hint to get moving.

WHAT I HAVEN’T TRIED: Drinking castor oil. Sorry but I just don’t fancy starting labour with the sh*ts.

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