As a mother who is currently past her due date this subject is a bit intimate for me, but I’d like to share some helpful guidelines for interacting with a mother who has past her due date. I’d also like to state that these are guidelines, not rules and different women will respond in different ways, be sensitive to her and her needs, and if you perceive that she didn’t like what you said or did change your tactic… I’d also like to say that I’m completely guilty of doing some of the things that bother me the most to other women, one of which just had her baby not long ago, and though I’m not positive that what I said made her upset, I believe it did, so I’m not perfect, don’t expect that you will be either.
Scenario: Your friend/acquaintance/person you know from church or the office is expecting a baby, her due date is coming up and you are excited about the upcoming birth.
- Don’t text her every day, you won’t be the last person to hear about the birth of her sweet bundle of joy, and even if you are, is it going to hurt you that much to hear about it last? Think of all the text messages she is receiving daily asking her how she is, or how much longer, or whatnot… I promise more than 1 text a day from anyone (including if it isn’t even the same person texting every day) is going to eventually annoy her, no matter how much excitement she has to update everyone.
- If you really can’t contain yourself, and want to see her, ask if you can come for a visit and bring her favorite snack. Personally if someone showed up with chocolates at my door I’d be more than happy to let them in and chat with me awhile. And you don’t even have to chat about the baby or the upcoming birth because you will see first hand whether she is in labor or not because you are in her presence.
- While you visit, do something helpful. My midwife’s apprentice came over last weekend and helped me clean my whole house (well the parts that people could see). She did this knowing that whenever my baby decided to arrive I would not be up to cleaning up the mess of my household and the cleaner it was before the birth, the less work it would be for me after the birth. SO HELPFUL! And after we finished I really felt like I could relax.
- Once your friend has past her due date do NOT ask her when she is going to be induced. Even if she were planning induction, this is not really something women want to go through. We don’t dream of the day we are induced… we dream of the day we will wake up to contractions. Also, asking when her induction is, sort of insinuates that her body is broken, when in fact it is perfectly in order, that baby doesn’t need to be told when to be born, it will come when it is ready, and passing a due date doesn’t indicate that a baby is ready to be born, it only indicates that the time is getting shorter before the birth will occur.
- Mommy’s medical background is for professionals only. Everyone loves to share their birth stories, but no one really needs to know how many centimeters mamma was dilated at her last appointment, or whether she has lost her mucus plug. I promise if she wants to give you that information she will gladly do so without your questions, it’s kind of the nature of things.
- Try talking about non baby related things. For the woman whose mind is always on the question of ‘when will I deliver this baby’, other topics are actually pretty welcome, though hard to focus on at times. My favorite time lately is when my midwife and her assistant come to my home for a prenatal appointment… why? because for at least 20 minutes if not longer we talk about things that have NOTHING to do with when I will go into labor, or the health or wellness of the baby inside of me… for a short time during those visits I’m not simply a vessel about to spill a baby out, I’m a person with interests and activities that don’t all revolve around the child within me.
- Invite but don’t expect her to come to things. Last week I was swamped with things I was invited to, I really wanted at some points to just say “nope, sorry, I need to rest” but the things all pertained to my other children and I wanted them to enjoy those things.. but I was actually pretty happy to be done with all the fun obligations and just chill out at home yesterday, and I’m looking forward to it again today. However, if all my friends decided that I was too close to the birth of my baby to come to any of their activities and stopped inviting me I’d be pretty lonely and stuck in my own thoughts sitting at home ALL the time…. so please, invite her, but if she doesn’t come because she is too tired, don’t sweat it, she’ll come when she can.
Scenario: Your friend is close or past her due date and has had prodomal labor (labor that feels like labor, but doesn’t produce a baby).
- She is EXHAUSTED from the work her body has been doing, and her mental state is probably not all that great. I realize you want to be sweet and supportive, but the more times she hears “soon” or other comments similar to that the more she is going to want to shut herself off from the world and hide and you won’t hear from her again.
- Offer to babysit the other kids so she can have a nap. I had a night that I couldn’t sleep at all, then started having contractions through a storm which seemed only to make things more intense and then once the storm ended it all went away, and didn’t return. However my sleepless night left me so exhausted I had to call my husband home from work, partly because the storm was so bad and I didn’t want him driving crazy fast to get home if things turned out to be the real deal and partly because I couldn’t really handle the older children like at all. He came home, brought the kids and I something to eat and sat with them in the living room while I enjoyed a 2 hour nap. It was amazing!
- Don’t ask about what happened, or suggest that it ‘wasn’t time yet’. She knows it wasn’t time, obviously her body didn’t push a child out of itself, and the details may be something she is still processing. She will probably volunteer the information if she needs to process out loud, but otherwise telling another person the disappointing news is just really frustrating, and EVERYONE wants to know… so she’s likely already given the story to several people. Be available to listen though, cause she may need it…
That’s it… you alone are not annoying her (most likely) however a lot of people all wanting the same update are going to drive her nuts. This process is normal, and natural, and a pregnancy can be on average 42 weeks.. that means some women can not only pass their 40 week mark (that magical due date) but also pass the 42 week mark and her baby and her body will be just fine. You were not asking her for signs of the birth at 34 weeks, so don’t bother her with it at 39-40 weeks either.. she has NO control over when it happens. But you can be available to help her out and love on her like a friend does… either from a distance, or in her home with snacks and a helping hand.
Have a Cherished Birth