If you’re heading towards the end of pregnancy you’ll probably have heard all of these and more! The pressure that we can be put under to go into labour can sometimes leave us feeling frustrated and worried. Will we actually go into labour? Has anyone ever not gone into labour?! (No!)
Instead of focusing on these pressures, it can be really lovely to spend time enjoying these last few precious days and weeks when it’s just the two of you, intimately bonded in the most special way. Perhaps you’ve had a really easy pregnancy. Maybe you’ve had some scares along the way, or suffered with ongoing sickness or pelvic pain. Whatever your personal situation, your pregnancy will end when your baby is ready to be born (unless you decide to end it sooner with induction or caesarean), so provided that you are physically and emotionally able to continue with your pregnancy, it’s absolutely fine to shut out the world, turn your phone to silent, relax and enjoy the ride.
Dealing with end of pregnancy pressures
Friends and family may be desperate to meet your baby, and they may misunderstand your rights as a pregnant woman or person. People often think that you’ll “have to” be induced if you’re still pregnant after a certain length of time, but the law says that the only person who can decide whether or not to be induced is you.
You may be told by your health care professional that you’re going to have a sweep, or be booked for induction. Again, these decisions are yours, not theirs.
It’s well worth learning about the benefits and risks of sweeps and other forms of induction of labour early in pregnancy so that you’re able to have time to ask the questions you want the answers to. Books like The AIMS Guide to Induction of Labour are really worth reading so that you have time to absorb information that you might find surprising, and might influence your decision about whether or not you’d want to accept any offer of an induction, if one were made.
When you know what’s right for you it can be much easier to have conversations with anyone trying to persuade or pressure you. Knowing you can simply say, “no, thank you” if you don’t want an intervention, and knowing you don’t need to fight, is very empowering.
Enjoying the last weeks and days of pregnancy
Being heavily pregnant can make it harder to do day to day tasks, but try to focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t right now.
When you are resting, take the time to check in with your baby. Enjoy their wriggles and kicks, and try to capture what it feels like, these magical moments.
Take photos! Some heavily pregnant women and people feel sexy and gorgeous, but others don’t feel so good about their bodies at this time. Your body is amazing, and will soon look very different, so even if you don’t want to look at the pictures, pregnancy photos may be very precious to you after birth.
Write birth affirmations
Birth affirmations are words and phrases that support you and encourage you in labour, or while waiting for a caesarean birth. You might like to choose some phrases which resonate with you, write them on a piece of card and decorate them. Examples are:
“My body is strong and powerful”
“Each wave will bring me closer to my baby”
“I am surrounded with love”
“I trust my body”
Have these birth affirmations around you at the end of pregnancy, and keep them with you as you begin the process of birthing your baby. Birth affirmations can also be a powerful way to help support you during birth so you may wish to prop them up or stick them to the wall where you can see them easily. You can find more birth affirmations in our website to print out too!
Knowledge is power!
How confident are you in your knowledge of important options such as pain relief? For example, non-pharmaceutical choices (pain relief without drugs) include using a birth pool. a TENS machine or hypnobirthing. These forms of pain relief have no side effects, and you can stop them at any time (eg you can get out of the pool or turn off the TENS machine.) You can spend some time looking more into these options and how they work and can be very effective during birth.
Pharmaceutical pain relief options include opiates, gas and air and epidural. Gas and air can be stopped almost immediately (the effect takes a few minutes to wear off). Opiates don’t wear off for a few hours and so if you don’t like them that can be a problem. They can also affect your baby’s ability to feed after birth and if given too close to birth will make baby more sedated, this is because this drug crosses the placenta. Although other drugs can be given to your baby to counteract this effect if needed. You might also want to know that diamorphine is actually medical heroin! Now this may sound alarming but under medical guidance for some people it can be an effective choice of analgesia.
Epidurals can be a very good pain reliever, and for some women and people they can lead to a wonderful, positive labour. However, it is important to know that they don’t always work 100%, and can leave you with some areas that feel uncomfortable, in some cases they may not be as effective as you might have wanted. They also limit your movement which can make it more likely that your labour may need further intervention and increases the chance that your baby may need help to be birthed with forceps or a caesarean. They can also leave some women and people with serious headaches or back problems. Because of this the Real Birth Workshop will teach you positions that you can use when choosing an epidural to reduce the chances of further intervention and also help your birth partner learn ways to support you.
Your Real Birth Teacher can give you lots of information about the benefits and risks of each form of pain relief to help you to make the decision that’s right for you.
What makes your body feel good? Walking through woods? A long, bubbly bath? A gigantic ice cream sundae? Why not give yourself some love and attention before baby comes and it’s harder to find “you time” for quite a while. You’re at the end of the first part of the journey of creating a whole new human so you deserve some love and attention yourself!
Reaching the end of pregnancy can often be made miserable with pressures from other people. It’s ok to switch off your phone, stay off social media and focus on yourself. You’ll soon meet your beautiful new baby but try to enjoy the last little bit of time of your precious pregnancy!
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