Why isn't your baby here?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ten percent of all pregnancies go past 42 weeks. Before you start to panic, you need to come to grips with the fact that your due date was really just an educated guess. It's perfectly normal to give birth one to two weeks before -- or after -- your due date. Some possible reasons for why your baby is late:
- The exact date of the start of your last menstrual period isn't known
- This is your first pregnancy
- You've had prior overdue pregnancies
- Overdue pregnancy runs in your family
Your doctor is on it
Your doctor is with you until the very end -- and then some. He or she will monitor you, looking for signs of any complications, such as preeclampsia. He or she will also check your cervix to see if it's begun to thin and dilate in preparation for labor. If you're more than one week past your due date, your doctor might monitor your baby's heartbeat with an electronic fetal monitor or use ultrasound to observe your baby's movements and measure the amount of amniotic fluid. If you and your doctor decide to induce your labor, you might be given medication to help your cervix soften and open. If your amniotic sac is still intact, your doctor might also break your water to start the process of labor. You might also be given medication to kick-start your contractions, such as Pitocin, a synthetic version of oxytocin.
What can you do to speed up the process?
Keep in mind that there are tons of natural ways to trigger labor -- but none have been clinically proven to work. If your doctor tells you there's no harm in trying one or more of them, then, at the very least, you'll feel like you're doing something. A few things you can try:
- Have Sex. Even though it might be next to impossible to find a comfortable position for you, your belly and your hubby, intercourse (or more specifically your partner's semen) might help speed up the process. Semen is full of prostaglandin, which will help your cervix soften and prepare for labor. But at the very least, you're throwing your husband a bone that he's likely to appreciate very much!
Walk. Walking upright invites gravity to help your baby apply pressure to the cervix. At the very least, you can enjoy some fresh air and light exercise.
Eat spicy food. Many women swear by this. Throw some jalapeno peppers on your sandwich and see what happens.
Relax. As hard as it is, you have to let go of control and allow Mother Nature to take its course. We can assure you that your baby will come out eventually.