For many pregnant mothers-to-be, if your estimated due date is on or around Christmas Day, you could be feeling an extra level of anxiety and stress.
Rather than feeling excited about the festive season, you may be worrying about going into labour on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or even New Years Day.
Christmas is such a special time of year. Who wouldn’t want to have their baby a bit earlier to make the most of the joy and festivities? Many women are opting for an elective induction to avoid having their baby on special dates like Christmas Day.
But is this a safe practice?
“My Doctor Will Be Away”
You might be at a pre-natal check up when your doctor casually mentions they’re going on leave in a few weeks. Your estimated due date is looming and you really don’t want to have strange on call staff looking after you during labour. After all, you’ve spent almost 9 months building this relationship – your doctor knows what you want and don’t want.
The thought of your doctor being away for the birth of your baby can leave you feeling anxious and stressed. Ideally your doctor should inform you as early as possible in your pregnancy if they'll be away around your estimated due date. If your doctor has a back up obstetrician on call, you may request to schedule some appointments with that doctor. If you don’t have a choice of doctor, it’s unlikely to make any difference if you’re induced or not – chances are you will not have meet the on call obstetrician anyway.
“I Don’t Want To Be In Hospital For The Holidays”
A big concern for women due around Christmas Day is being away from home on what is one of the most special days of the year. This can be tough especially if you have other children. The idea of having your baby early so you can be home in comfort for the festivities is tempting.
But the chances are if you have an elective induction, you’re more likely to have a c-section. If you end up with an assisted birth or a c-section, you aren’t going to be feeling very comfortable. You’re likely to stay in the hospital for longer and have a harder recovery than you would a natural vaginal birth. Babies born after induction are more likely to experience respiratory distress and need to spend time in the special care unit. This means being separated from you, interrupting bonding and breastfeeding. Induction increases the chances of fetal distress during labour, which is why there’s an increased risk in needing a c-section – increasing the risks for your baby.
Hospitals often get in on the Christmas spirit, and you could find it adds an extra special element to your labour and birth. If the hospital is quiet, you might be able to get a little extra attention and support from the staff. Many maternity wards have special traditions for Christmas babies as well.
“I Don’t Want My Baby To Have A Holiday Birthday”
If your due date falls on Christmas Day, you’re more than likely to hear ‘that was poor planning’ than congratulations. Most people have an opinion on what it’s like to have a birthday on a holiday, usually feeling sorry for your baby missing out on having their own special day. Others might comment on how inconvenient it will be if you aren’t able to make dinner or other special arrangements.
Having a baby on Christmas Day means your partner will be home so getting to the hospital will be easier and having them around after the birth much more likely. Most people have family around during the Christmas holidays, so if you do go into labour and have other children, the stress of who can look after them is relieved. And while your family is around, after the birth you can enjoy being nurtured and looked after as you rest and bond with your new baby.
Your baby doesn’t know it’s Christmas and isn’t trying to be inconvenient being born on a special holiday. If you’re feeling pressured to oblige relatives or friends to show up to special events, tactfully remind them that this is one holiday out of many – missing one Christmas lunch is not the end of the world.
“I Didn’t Want An Induction But My Doctor Says I Need One”
If you have been having a healthy, low risk pregnancy all along, you’re likely to have been planning for a natural birth. So it might come as a complete shock when your doctor announces there is something not quite right and an induction may be on the cards.
The reasons given may be changes to baby’s growth (too big/too small), too much or too little amniotic fluid, high blood pressure and so on. While these are legitimate concerns, you should be confident that they’re real. Many inductions are scheduled simply because of convenience, either to the mother or the care provider.
There are risks that should be considered carefully before making the decision to artificially begin labour. Your baby is undergoing huge brain and growth development in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Their lungs are still maturing in preparation for breathing. Even though you might be a certain number of weeks gestation that says your baby would not be ‘premature’ there is no way of knowing what fine tuning your baby needs to make the transition from womb to world a smooth one.
Once induction methods have begun, there’s almost always no turning back – you’re committed from that moment to having your baby in whatever way necessary to ensure their safety. If you feel your doctor is trying to scare you into having an induction for non medical reasons, you have a number of options. Ask if you need to make a decision right away. Find out as much as you can and then do your research. Ask for another opinion. Or find another care provider who values birth as a normal process no matter what day it happens on!
Inductions can be life saving for both mother and baby when there is medical necessity.
Induction without a strong medical reason has become a routine intervention that has the potential to do more harm than good. If you’re due around the holidays and feel the pressure to have your baby earlier, remember that induction is not the easy option. An elective induction has the potential to turn your perfectly normal birth into one that has high level interventions or surgery. Your baby’s arrival will be special and memorable, no matter what day they choose to be born on.
Recommended Reading: 5 Ways To Reduce Your Chances of An Induction of Labour