I have had several doula clients feel forced into agreeing to an induction because they are coming up on 42, 41 or even 40 weeks of pregnancy. Although there are some instances when an induction is indicated (and I DO encourage open communication with your care provider if you are facing an induction for any reason), coming to an arbitrary date should not be one of them. I have discovered some little-known “secrets” about babies bore after 40, 41 or even 42 weeks. To be more specific, those that are allowed to come when ready instead of being evicted just because of passing an arbitrary date on the calendar:
Babies born later are normally better at eating, sleeping and just overall more mature and often easier to care for than babies who are forced out before they are ready.
The estimated due date is just that- it is a guess! I have read that just as apples ripen on a tree at different rates, babies are ready to be born at different gestational ages. A few will be ready very early and a few will be ready very late and most of the others will come somewhere in between. It can be helpful to think of when you are due in different terms than we are used to. Why not have a due month instead of a due date? Or consider telling people you are “due” 2 weeks after your 40 week date. Sometimes well-meaning friends and family consider your estimated due date to be a definitive “Do Not Pass” date. They fully EXPECT baby to come by that date. If you pass it, they are often more concerned with every passing day. It can be hard enough to wait for your little one’s arrival without your loved ones stressing you out.
Now I would like to tell you some of the ways to help your baby stay put until fully developed and completely ready to be born. There are no guarantees but there are some things that can help:
1. I have found that some of the very best things you can do are to eat well, get plenty of pregnancy-safe exercise and rest, and also do what you can to reduce your level of stress in your pregnancy.
Dr. Brewer studied pregnancy nutrition extensively and found that consuming 80-100 grams of protein (even 65-75 grams can make a considerable difference), getting at least 2500 calories of nutrient-rich foods and getting plenty of salt and fluids every day can decrease your chances of developing pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia which often leads to needing an induction and can help you avoid going into preterm labor. I wish that more providers pointed this out to expectant mothers! It is so important.
2. You can decline an induction if you are faced with one that has no actual medical indication. Be sure to make your wishes known and have some good discussion with your provider. Voice your concerns and ask for proof that what they are suggesting is actually needed (having a doula can definitely help you by providing information on the difference between a medically necessary induction and an elective one.) Many care providers actually believe that their clients WANT to be induced. So, if you are someone who does not want an elective induction, sometimes all you need to do is tell your provider you don’t want one. I encourage open communication as a top priority, but if you feel bullied, you do not need to show up for an induction that is scheduled against your will. You could also refuse to schedule one when told you need to do so. More and more clients are standing up for their Human Rights. You have the right to informed consent, which includes the option to decline ANY medical intervention (That includes induction as well as a cesarean delivery!).
3. You can switch providers from someone who is making you feel forced into an unnecessary or unwanted induction to a provider who is willing to be patient and trust that your body and your baby know when to start labor.
I would love your feedback! Were you induced simply because you were “overdue”? How was your experience? Did you say “No” to a medical intervention that you did not want? How did that go for you? Do you have advice for others facing an induction for passing their due date? Please comment below!
Karen Gartner is a birth doula in North Carolina with over 16 years of experience helping families achieve their goals for labor, birth and beyond. She also has 20+ years of experience helping mothers with breastfeeding. As a doula and mother of 4 growing children, she has a lot of wisdom to share with new mothers and clients.