This post isn’t meant to be a rub-it-in-your-face sort of thing (I made it farther than you, nah, nah, nah, nah), or a way for me to receive pity or praise…it really is meant to be informational for people who’ve never been there.
Just like people who’ve never “tried” to get pregnant, it’s hard to understand what women have to go through if you haven’t experienced it yourself.
It’s a very unique time period in a woman’s life and trust me when I tell you, I am exceedingly thankful I carry my babies as long as I do because I know a LOT of women who wish they could!
As of today, I am about 39.5 weeks. My due date depends on who you ask (or which online calculator you use and whether it’s based on last period or conception) but even if I go as long as I did with the boys, we’re no more than nine days out.
There are differing opinions but most sources count 37 weeks as “early full term,” 38-40 “full term” and anything after 40 “late term.”
Most women who “only make it” to 37, 38 or 39 weeks are being induced or having a scheduled C-section and usually because they’re having complications (breech baby, pre-clampsia) or had issues with past births. No one hopes for that. In fact, I know a lot of those women would have preferred to have carried to 39+ weeks.
Of course there are plenty of women who just have their babies a little early. Maybe they weren’t sure of when they actually conceived or maybe that’s just their body.
Having said all of that, here are a few things to know about going past 38 weeks pregnancy, based mainly on MY own experience.
- It’s exhausting to haul around a full term baby! If you made it to 37 weeks and thought that was rough, imagine having to go another three or four weeks! Babies often drop at the end and it can feel like a bowling ball hanging between your legs! Plus your muscles and ligaments are just plain worn out.
- The waiting in the last few weeks is excruciating. This is especially true when 1. your fellow pregnant friends have already had their babies and 2. your pregnant friends behind you are lamenting how long their pregnancy is dragging on and wishing to “go early.”
- Getting to your due date and beyond means everyone is on baby watch. If you grimace, everyone think it’s a contraction. Your in-laws call every day. Every social media post is met with, “Ack! I thought you had the baby!”(that’s me right now).
- As a plus, being full term does gain a lot of sympathy…and it should! You’re in total limbo and feel like a ticking time bomb. The days drag by because everything is done, your house is prepared for the baby and you have nothing scheduled to do! Plus you are just that much more eager to meet your son or daughter.
- Many women who do go full term or late term birth full-sized babies. If you’ve never pushed out a seven, eight or nine-pound baby, I can tell you that it’s an incredibly harrowing and empowering experience! That’s a lot of baby to exit your body!
- Post-partum recovery can be more intense because the baby was housed in there longer and your body is more worn out.
What to do?
If you know someone who’s near or past their due date, offer to take them lunch or take them out for a pedicure (or just sit with her to pass the time). She’ll appreciate it.
Having a baby is hard no matter how it happens. The main thing is simply to understand that those of us who go full term and beyond often have that feeling of, “That must be nice” when people have their babies early.
And we think, “I wish people knew how hard this is,” especially as our countdown calculators run out and our pregnancy journals come to an end (also me).
No one wishes for a baby with pre-term issues or hopes for complications but on the other hand, those of us who make it kinda feel like we deserve a medal. Or a cookie.