The last weeks of pregnancy are the longest.
As a mama who had three babies come at 42 weeks, I know exactly how long those last weeks are.
There is nothing more exciting than waiting for labour to start, and nothing more frustrating.
Every night you go to bed hoping you’ll wake up in the early hours with contractions.
Every morning you wake up disappointed those niggles you felt in the night didn’t turn into something more purposeful.
The last weeks of pregnancy are a tough time, no matter how many times you’ve been there before.
But you should know this, mama: you’re not alone. You won’t stay pregnant forever (promise).
You will get through this time, no matter how impossible it seems right now.
So how do you pass the time while you’re waiting for labour to start?
10 Things To Do While Waiting For Labour To Start
Here are 10 things to do when waiting for your baby:
#1: Be Patient
By the time they are 34 weeks, most women feel ‘done’ with being pregnant (sometimes this happens sooner). You’ll probably start counting down the days until you reach full term (37 weeks) and hope labour will start soon.
You might be tempted to do pretty much everything you can to get labour going. In fact you might already have planned out your régime of raspberry leaf tea, spicy foods, and sex to get things moving along.
But remember, this is the time your baby needs to finish developing for life outside your womb. Only your baby knows when that time is up.
Trying to get things going when it’s not yet time can lead to more frustration, disappointment and possibly a cranky, irritable uterus.
Yes, you feel you’re the size of a whale, and you have cankles, and greasy hair. You’re so tired you could fall asleep in the doctor’s waiting room. But you’ll never have this time again with your unborn baby so close to your heart.
Read more about What Causes Labour To Start.
#2: Forget Your EDD
Like all women you look forward to finding out your estimated due date (EDD). From the moment you know it, you count down the months and weeks, waiting for that special date when you will meet your baby.
You tell everyone who asks when you’re due. You might become fixated on that one date in the future.
Yet only 5% of babies are actually born on their due date.
So all that time focusing on one date really sets you up for disappointment if you don’t go into labour on that day.
You might be lucky and go into labour before your EDD. Or you might be one of many women who give birth after their EDD.
Look past your EDD. Add two weeks to it, or even decide on a due month instead. You’re not overdue until you are 42 weeks and 1 day.
Check out Estimated Due Dates And The Myth Of The 40 Week Pregnancy for more info.
Nesting is a phenomenon we’ve all heard about. Expectant mamas often clean the house at odd hours; they wash all the baby’s clothes and reorganise the pantry.
Birds and other animals feel the biological urge to prepare for their babies’ arrival by creating a safe, snug space for them. So do human mamas.
A burst of energy can surprise you, just when you’re feeling your heaviest and possibly more tired than you’ve ever been. This nesting urge is a primal one; it helps you get ready for baby’s arrival.
Make the most of this distraction while you wait to go into labour. Enjoy feeling productive and working towards clearing your head of your ‘to do’ list. It can give you peace of mind to know things are ready and waiting for your baby, when she decides to arrive.
#4: …And Rest
Nesting is useful, but it can leave you feeling tired. Resting is also an important part of waiting for labour to start. You don’t know when you will need your energy for giving birth, so don’t overdo it.
Make a habit of carving out some time every day, simply to rest. Chances are you aren’t sleeping too well at this stage, considering those nightly visits to the toilet, and finding it hard to get comfortable in bed.
Make some time to be still, and to tune into your little belly dweller. Listen to some music, meditate, read, or do whatever else allows your mind and body to be still and quiet.
Allow yourself to rest mentally and physically. It helps rebuild your energy for when you need it.
#5: Be Distracted
At the beginning of each day, set yourself a goal that doesn’t include giving birth. It’s important to have something else to focus on, or to achieve. Your day will be so much better if you avoid sitting around just thinking about ‘still’ being pregnant.
If you keep yourself occupied each day, you won’t have time to focus on what that twitch was, or whther that ache was anything to get excited about.
Try to plan something to get you out of the house. You could meet a friend for coffee, go window shopping, go for a walk, or take a prenatal exercise class.
Ever had a secret wish to binge-watch a multi season TV series? Or fancy reading all the Outlander books? Now is the time! If you can’t get out, or you don’t feel like it, just snuggle up on the couch and enjoy being able to get involved in some drama on the page or the screen.
It might be the last time for a while you can concentrate on anything more than when you last slept.
#6: Indulge In Some Self Care
The value of this cannot be underestimated. Later, when you’re knee-deep in nappies, totally sleep deprived, and you haven’t washed your hair in days, you’ll wish you’d taken this advice.
Whatever sort of pampering you like best, make a booking, and make it happen. Now.Whether it’s having a massage, a haircut or a pedicure, you’re unlikely to have the time to dedicate to yourself for quite a while.
Taking care of yourself is also a great way of reducing stress and anxiety. And it will increase the chances of your labour being a positive experience.
Need some more suggestions? Check out Stress During Pregnancy – 10 Tips To Combat Stress.
#7: Have A Babymoon
Don’t forget, your partner is waiting for baby too. While you still can, why not duck off somewhere and have a mini holiday before baby arrives. Or organise a few date nights at your favourite restaurant, or just order take away at home and cuddle up on the couch.
Whether you go have a romantic get away or enjoy a romantic dinner for two, spending some quality time together will help get that love hormone going.
Many women feel a bit fearful about coping with labour, so focus on your connection with your partner. It will help you to feel safe and supported, which is important for when you are giving birth.
Is your partner keen to know how to help? Pass on these 15 Great Ways To Support Her During Pregnancy.
#8: Prepare For The Future
When your baby arrives, time will seem to fly by at a rapid rate. You’ll either grab opportunities for short sleeps whenever you can, snuggling your little one, or just stare adoringly at this incredible little human being you’ve made.
Things like groceries and meals seem to drift off the priority list, so it’s a good idea to stock up for those times. Have some healthy and nutritious options to pull out of the freezer and reheat.
Ask family and friends to organise a meal train so you and your partner don’t have to worry about cooking for at least the first few weeks. This is a great way to make sure you have a postnatal month after the birth.
It’s a great idea to investigate your local grocery delivery options as well. Set up a repeat weekly order for the basics, and for fruit and vegetables, so you don’t have to worry about it later.
#9: Feel All The Feels
Waiting for labour in late pregnancy can really intensify the mood swings you’re likely to experience.
You’re probably feeling tired of everything, and possibly worrying about life after baby too. It’s normal to think about how becoming a mother will affect your relationship, whether you will be a good mother, and how life is going to change.
This can mean more emotional ups and downs, which are already happening, thanks to hormone changes (again).
It’s important to acknowledge that emotions are going to run high during this time. You might be feeling a range of emotions – fear about labour or something happening to the baby, or whether your partner will be supportive enough. You might cry over a soppy TV commercial or because you forgot to drink your tea while it was hot.
Ask your partner, family and friends for their support in helping you through this time. Sometimes, talking about how you’re feeling can make you step back and realise how normal it is to experience this emotional rollercoaster ride.
If you feel like your emotional highs and lows are too extreme, or you’re not coping, speak to your GP or maternity care provider.
#10: Remind Yourself It’s Not Long Now
It is true. You won’t be pregnant forever. Your baby isn’t staying in there to torment you.
Every night of restless sleep means you’re one day closer to meeting your baby. Each Braxton Hicks contraction is one more sign your body is preparing for the day labour will begin.
Soon you will be working towards meeting your baby. Not long now, and you will be holding your baby and all this waiting will be a memory.
You will probably miss being pregnant. Really. Even mamas who have tough pregnancy challenges miss that special closeness to their baby. Before you know it, your baby will be here and you will look back on this time with happy memories.
You’ll wonder how you made it through these last few weeks, waiting for labour to start. But you will remember how it felt, and know there are countless women going through exactly the same experience.
Right now, you’re doing an amazing job, mama. And it’s going to be worth the wait.