Pregnancy/Birth - 40-44 weeks
What is happening to mother
When you have been given one date to focus on for the arrival of your baby, it can be hard to bear in mind that this date is in fact only one day in the whole month when your baby is ready to be born. Carrying on your daily activities as usual and staying focused on the idea that your baby will come when she is ready, can help you to stay calm and to allow events to unfold as they need to.
If your baby has been born you may be enjoying those first few days of joy and closeness as a new family or you may find that you are feeling you need a bit more time to begin bonding with your baby. Either way, following the way that feels just right for you and your new baby and your family, is a positive start.
What is happening to baby
Your baby is ready to be born at any time. She will still be moving plenty although more squirming now that she has less space for mobility.
If you have enjoyed an unmedicated gentle birth your newborn baby will be alert, instinctive and quiet immediately after birth. If she has been affected by an epidural or other opiate drugs, she may be slow to nuzzle, root and suck instinctively at first. Either way, she will however be comforted by your voice, smell and the sound of your heartbeat (or that of her father's), so holding her next to your/his skin will help her to recover.
Things to think about
If your labour has not started by 41 weeks, you will be invited to speak to your consultant about induction. Hospital guidelines vary on when induction of labour is recommended, you always have the right to make an informed choice not to accept induction if you wish. There is a higher risk of further medical intervention and instrumental delivery if your labour is forced in the first place, but this needs to be weighed up against the health and wellbeing of you and your baby. It is useful to find out as much information as you can beforehand about the risks and benefits of induction (AIMS), as well as being prepared to follow your instincts about when and how your baby needs to be born.
Skin-to-skin contact during the first hour after birth between mother and baby (or father and baby if mother is unwell) can be enjoyed by all new parents and will be facilitated by your midwife and/or doula. This time helps your baby to establish her breathing and maintain her temperature, and thereby recover from her birth. Skin-to-skin also encourages your baby to seek out and root for your breast, especially following a non-medicated gentle birth.