A few weeks ago, one of my students, Rachel, talked with me with about a concern: her due date. She had calculated her due date based on the knowledge of her long cycles (averaging 31 days) while her doctor used the standard 28 day cycle. Her doctor had moved her original due date back a whole week. She was approaching her due date with the feeling of little progress and of her baby not having dropped yet. Her doctor had discussed an induction date if she was to go a week past. Rachel strongly felt she wanted to more time before facing an induction. I encouraged her to talk to her doctor and ask three important questions. Is Mom ok? Is Baby ok? If so, can we have more time?
A few days later, Rachel did talk to her doctor and asked those questions. Much to her great relief, her doctor was totally on board with giving her more time as long as she agreed to come in for a stress test twice a week. Rachel was absolutely elated when she related the story to me. She told me that at first she was hesitant to broach the subject with her doctor because she didn’t want to come across as confrontational. And she didn’t want to seem like she was questioning her doctor’s judgment. When I asked her what allowed her to finally ask her doctor these questions, she answered, “The questions made sense.“ She was not being medically irresponsible, because if either mom or baby were not ok, more time would not be allotted. Rachel also explained how empowered and relieved she felt about being proactive in listening to her body and her instincts.
When this topic came up in class, some second times moms chimed in and said they also used these three questions when faced certain scheduling conflicts. For example, how long they could labor before augmentation (usually Pitocin) was introduced to labor. Or how long they were allowed to push before it was declared the baby was “too big” and a cesarean section was required. Full disclosure- I pushed far longer than most hospitals would have allowed and was able to have a successful vaginal birth because I was not concerned about time pressure. Another mother told the class that her water had broken before the onset of labor and her doctor said as long as she did not show signs of a fever and felt the baby still actively moving, she could wait up to 24 hours before she was required to come into the hospital to artificially induce labor.
If you are faced with certain time constraints, remember the 3 Questions. Is Mom OK? Is Baby OK? Can we have more time? Not only could these questions save you from unnecessary interventions but they provide an opportunity for your body to go at it’s own pace without the pressure to meet predetermined goals. Most importantly, you are empowering yourself to actively participate in the decisions that surround the unfolding of your birth experience.
PS- Rachel had her baby right around the due date she had calculated!