In my years as a birth worker, I have worked with countless women as they undergo the pressure from well meaning family and friends about “D” day. Texts, phone calls and messages pour in through out the day with the question of the day; “Have you had that baby yet?” I refer to this as the “Turkey Timer Phenomena.” Have you seen the timers you can purchase to put in your turkey? They are designed for you to “take the guess work out of cooking the perfect turkey.” You place the timer in your turkey, put it in the oven and wait for the timer to pop up from your now golden brown turkey to let you know that it is done. It makes the work so much easier.
I find in our culture that family and friends respond to the pregnant woman in the same way. In our society, where the cultural norm is to see an Obstetrician, and schedule an induction or surgical birth date way in advanced, it throws people for a loop when a woman is planning a natural, non-intervened birth journey. Our society is used to birthing days being scheduled in the 39th to 40th week that it is foreign for someone to make it to their due date, let alone go past it! To outsiders, once your due date comes, the turkey timer has popped up. It is time to have a baby. As each day passes after a woman’s estimated due date, the statements from others become more anxiety ridden and even demanding. “You are over due. Why don’t you want to have this baby already? Are you sure everything is okay? What is wrong that you haven’t gone into labor yet? There is nothing wrong with being induced. I never could go into labor on my own and had to be induced.”
I have found that this often makes the expecting woman feel discouraged and anxious, the complete opposite of what a woman should feel as she is preparing for the birthing journey that awaits her at any moment. I think that most friends and family do not intend to make the expecting woman feel this way intentionally. If you have a friend or a family member who is in her due window, meaning 37-42 weeks along in her pregnancy, here are some things you can do for her:
- Encourage Her- Call her, send a message, stop by her home and encourage her that these last days seem long as she waits for her baby, but the perfect birthing day is on the horizon. Encourage her that the most important things a woman can do as she is waiting for labor is to be nourished, hydrated and rested. One of my favorite things to do for my moms is when they make their due date, I post pictures of affirmations or positive quotes on their Facebook wall or send them a text message. It is a good reminder that birthing day is coming and she is doing everything right.
- Distract Her- Realizing these last days of pregnancy are grueling for a lot of women, offer to do activities with her to keep her distracted. Going out for pedicures, catching a movie together, going out for dinner, and walking the mall are a few examples of things that you can do together to help distract the expecting woman during those last days waiting for the baby.
- Help Her- Some of the hardest days to get things done can be the end of pregnancy. Most women go into nesting mode and want things organized, floors scrubbed, house cleaned. Ask her if there are any tasks that she would like help with before the baby comes.
One thing I can guarantee, you will know when she has this baby. There is seldom a woman who is not shouting from the roof tops in her post birth euphoria letting everyone know that her sweet baby is now earth side.
For those expecting mama who are feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and anxious from the constant stream of “Have you had that baby yet?” messages, here is my encouragement for you:
- Communicate with friends and family your birth plans. Remind them that you are allowing your body and baby to take the lead and not relying on intervention to pick your baby’s birthing day. Due dates are just estimations. Remind them that just because you have passed your due date does not mean you are “expired.” The due date is our best estimate on when the baby will come. We know that most baby’s will come some where in the window of 37-42 weeks.
- Communicate to a group. Consider sending out a mass message, whether by text, email or public Facebook post that states you appreciate everyone’s concern but that you will not be responding to any messages in regards to if the baby is here yet, stating that when the baby is here and you are ready, you will share with everyone a photo and stats on your sweet bundle of joy.
- Take a break from unsupportive people. Lastly, if you have certain people in your life that are not encouraging you and refuse to respect your wishes, consider cutting communication with them until the baby is born. I know that is a hard decision to make. Birth is so much more than the physical act of birthing, it is mental, it is emotional, it is spiritual. If any aspect is affected, it will affect the entire birthing experience. If someone is causing you to feel discouraged and to doubt yourself, this could potentially affect your birthing experience. We know that the birth journey is powerful and changes women for the better or worse for the rest of their lives. As I tell my moms, you only have this birth experience once. Do not allow people who are not encouraging and respecting of you and your wishes for your birthing journey to be near you until after your baby is earth side. I have worked with countless women who have had to make the tough decision to stop talking to a friend or family member for a period of time until their baby was born. It is hard, but it is worth it for you to be surrounded with a clear, uninhibited space around you (physically and mentally) as you prepare for your birthing journey.
Enjoy those post “turkey timer” days expecting mamas! Enjoy those last kicks and movements of your baby inside your womb. Find ways to stay distracted, and most importantly trust your amazing body and the perfect birthing day that lies ahead of you.