A few weeks ago I used the example of April the Giraffe to describe the unpleasant experience of being monitored and questioned by every friend, family member and Starbucks barista toward the end of pregnancy.
Since then, the April the Giraffe hype has only grown and people all over the world are now wondering if she is “overdue.” Well, the short answer is no. There’s no way of knowing exactly when the pregnancy began so for April, there was never a due date…only a very wide window of time in which a calf could be born.
As mentioned previously, for humans with access to modern prenatal care there is a much more specific window of time in which a baby is likely to be born. Most babies arrive between 38 and 42 weeks gestation. Contrary to popular thought, passing the 40 week mark does not make a baby “overdue”; it is most often completely normal and non-threatening. There is conflicting evidence on risks and benefits of watching and waiting versus inducing labour as 42 weeks approaches (this conversation is best had with your care provider) but there is certainly no bell that sounds off at the 40 week mark of an uncomplicated pregnancy.
Regardless of whether or not you are truly, clinically “overdue” (the official lingo is “postterm”), watching your due date come and go can be challenging. The 40+ week experience is like a membership to a special pregnancy club. Unless you’ve been there, you can’t quite understand.
Here are some examples of what happens after your due date. The perks of being in the 40+ Weeks Club!
Your conversations are like
“Are you still pregnant?!” (Yes, clearly, I’m still pregnant.)
“Are you dilated?” (I don’t know, but please don’t ask about my cervix ever again.)
“Do you think today’s the day?” (Yes, I’ve thought that every day for the last three weeks.)
“Have you tried Chinese food / sex / acupuncture / Zumba?” (Honestly, yes. The Chinese food made me thirsty and the Zumba gave me butt cramps.)
“My friend’s baby was a week late, and X-Y-Z scary and terrible thing happened.” (Can we please stick to Good Vibes Only when we share birth stories with pregnant people?)
“Isn’t your doctor worried?” (No, because she’s a doctor so her opinion is based on expert observation.)
Your body is like
Maternity clothes have nothing on your watermelon sized bump.
Pre-labour contractions (Braxton Hicks, prodromal labour or “false labour”). They might be nothing, might be a good thing, and either way they mess with your head.
Your baby’s kicks are so powerful, you think your abdomen might burst.
You try to rest when you can to prepare for the physical challenge of birth, but sleep is hard to come by because you’re uncomfortable and anxious.
Possible early signs of labour are everywhere, since you’re looking so hard for them. You scrutinize over any signs of your mucus plug. You Google pictures of other people’s mucus plugs (consider yourself warned).
You go in for an ultrasound to check on things and the sonographer estimates that your baby weighs 12 pounds. “What a chunky monkey!” she says. “Good luck with that!”
Your mind is like
Weeks into your maternity leave and still pregnant, you feel like you’re wasting your precious time off work.
Knowing things are more likely to begin at night, you cry a little every morning you wake up not in labour.
Everyone in your Facebook due date group already had their baby and you feel allll alone in pregnancy land.
You try to act like you don’t care when people gawk over your situation, but really your emotions are running wild…mostly because you’re just so ready to meet your baby.
A little more every day, you begin to consider the possibility that you’ll be pregnant forever. You look in the mirror and whisper, “This is me now.”
Your baby will be here soon!
I’ve been there and done that and I know it’s hard. One way or another though, sometime very soon, your beautiful baby will be here and you’ll *almost* forget about your time in the 40+ Weeks Club.