ith pregnancy comes joy, excitement, introspection and the anticipation of many new and wonderful adjustments in life…not to mention the flow of hormones, mood changes and on and on. For most women, it’s a welcomed gift and the beginning of a new relationship that brings indescribable emotions and a new vulnerability. The early flutters she feels and the changes taking place within her body are met with exhilaration. A pregnant woman now has a little person growing and developing inside of her and she is tasked with the job of protecting it.
Pregnancy naturally places a woman’s focus on her body, self-care and ongoing appointments for prenatal care with her medical caregiver, generally an obstetrician (a medical doctor trained in surgery) or a midwife (a person medically trained in birthing). In many countries around the world, midwives care for normal, healthy pregnant women, leaving those with “special circumstances” for the obstetrician.
The philosophies of these two professions differ substantially. One of the greatest differences becomes evident towards the end of the pregnancy. The midwife is trained to trust in the wisdom of the body and the baby, knowing that when a healthy woman is carrying a healthy baby, together they will determine when it’s time for baby to make his or her appearance. They know that normal human gestation is between 37 and 42 weeks. Midwives know and trust that women’s bodies were made to birth and when that time comes, a hormone secreted from within the baby’s body triggers oxytocin (the natural labor-initiating hormone within the mother’s body, aka “love hormone”) and labor begins. As we say in HypnoBirthing®, this is all a part of nature’s master plan that has a “designated flow, but not a designated schedule”.
In contrast, the obstetrician who follows the dictates of ACOG, (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a premier professional membership organization dedicated to the improvement of women’s health) follows a more prescribed timeline that is more trusting of medicine and science and less on Mother Nature.
In 2013 ACOG redefined “term pregnancy” because they feel it improves newborn outcomes and helps to prevent non-medically indicated births prior to 39 weeks. The four new definitions of term that your obstetrician might be prescribing to are as follows:
• Early Term: Between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks 6 days
• Full Term: Between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days
• Late Term: Between 41 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 6 days
• Post-term: Between 42 weeks 0 days and beyond
As a longtime HypnoBirthing® Educator (17 years) I have gotten many calls from women who are past their 40 weeks (“full term”) mark because they don’t know how to handle the pressure from their doctors to “get this show on the road”. I always remind them to go back to their HypnoBirthing book and read the section on letting nature take its course and “letting your baby decide”. After all, your baby doesn’t have a clock, calendar or
ACOG ‘s definition of “term” in there. After 40 weeks your caregiver will be keeping a close eye on you and encouraging non-stress tests to ensure that baby is doing fine. While technology has provided our medical professionals with plenty of ways to keep an eye on baby, sometimes it’s still not convincing enough and doctors begin to pressure a woman to start inducing when there is no medical indication for it. I had one mom tearfully tell me that “…he’s scheduling my induction for Monday!!! What do I do?” I said “Don’t show up”. I had another mom tell me that at 40 weeks 2 days her doctor was already discussing the need to induce in 9 days. I said “9 days?” That is absurd. That would bring her close to 42 weeks, still within the normal range for human gestation. Why would a doctor want to bring alarm to a woman so early on? This can only be because some doctors do not realize the connection between fear and the word “induction” and how stress can delay the natural functioning of ones body. When fear is present, the body does not function as it was meant to.
What to do? You have two choices, either trust your body and baby and wait…or accept an induction that is comparable to pulling an unripe piece of fruit from a tree. When it’s not time…it’s not time. Why fight Mother Nature? I remind moms that doctors cannot force you to accept an induction. Asking “Is there anything wrong with me or my baby?” If the response is “No, everything looks good”, then let your body and baby guide you.
Tune into your body and your baby. You will know if there is any urgency. So these are the sorts of topics covered in HypnoBirthing Childbirth Education classes. Having a baby is the start of many times in your life when you will be making decisions on behalf of, and in the best interest of, your child. You can start by tuning into mother’s intuition and making wise ones.