My baby is overdue, what can I do?
Going over your due date
Many women become fixed upon a due date, which is usually determined by a dating scan in the UK. This date is calculated to be 40 weeks pregnant exactly. However, only around 5% of women will have their babies on their ‘due date’, but psychologically some women may become disheartened when their baby has not arrived by this predicted day.
In our culture we are used to being able to control a lot of aspects of our lives. Having a baby is a very important, if not the most important part, of most people’s lives. Therefore, when we are often unable to control when our babies are born, it can often be difficult for us to ‘let go’ of this fear about when the baby could arrive and instead trust our bodies.
Hormones are the key to helping labour begin naturally and to assist in labour progressing well. Your hormones work best when you are as relaxed and feeling as stress-free as possible. Although it sounds simple, the more relaxed you can be, the easier it will be for labour hormones to work effectively.
A soothing massage can ease anxieties and relieve tension. Our Fantastic Skin Elastic is ideal to use for pregnancy massage, and can be beneficial for you, your partner and your baby to all bond through the sensation of touch.
Your labour is driven by the hormone oxytocin, which helps to start and maintain contraction patterns. Oxytocin is also the hormone responsible for helping us to fall in love, therefore feeling loved, safe and secure within your own comfortable environment, with your chosen birth partners and supporters, will increase its production. Remember that the same hormone that put your baby inside you is the same one that will bring your baby out.
Feeling anxious and worried, or being in an environment that is unusual, has the potential to increase the hormone adrenaline, which can override your oxytocin levels and potentially slow down your contraction patterns.
Preparing for labour
- Food and drink - Red raspberry leaf tea can be taken from 32 weeks pregnant and is available from health food shops or some supermarkets. It will not start your labour off, but it does strengthen your uterus and make the muscle more effective once labour has begun. There’s also some evidence to suggest that eating 6 dates a day from 36 weeks pregnant can shorten your labour slightly and, for some women, start labour a bit sooner.
- Nipple stimulation - The hormone oxytocin is also produced when breastfeeding, therefore hand expressing from 36 weeks can encourage its production. Whilst you are stimulating the breast by hand expressing you may therefore start to feel some mild uterine tightenings. Any milk that you may collect from hand expressing can be stored in the freezer and used after your baby is born.
- Exercise - Exercise helps you to maintain a good level of fitness for labour and birth. It also encourages the production of feel-good hormones called endorphins. Walking, especially using the stairs in later pregnancy, can encourage your baby’s head to engage into your pelvis. Swimming and yoga can also be good at promoting relaxation.
- Acupuncture and acupressure - These treatments can help to stimulate the production of oxytocin, as well as help relieve aches and pains, and promote relaxation. Seek a trained professional to perform acupuncture and to teach you acupressure in your pregnancy.
- Sex - Having penetrative and non-penetrative sex can stimulate oxytocin. Semen contains prostaglandins, which can help to soften the cervix, making it ready for when labour starts.
- Nesting - Take time out during your pregnancy to think about the environment you would like to labour in. Often this will involve having your favourite things around you, comfortable cushions or bean-bags, low lighting (perhaps fairy lights or tea lights) and plenty of your favourite snacks and drinks to hand.
- Laughing - Do or watch something that makes you laugh, such as a comedy or a feel-good film. Remember, relaxation will promote oxytocin and increasing your levels of oxytocin will make labour more likely to start.