The last few weeks of a pregnancy can feel like the longest part. You've finished all your preparation. The carseat is in the car. The baby's clothes have been washed, folded, and put away. Your bag is packed for the hospital or birth center, or your home birth kit has arrived. You're uncomfortable. You're not sleeping well. If you're seeing a typical OBGYN and go past your 40 week date, you may hear "induction" thrown around and the pressure is on to go into labor ASAP. You're ready to meet your baby. You're either over-the-moon excited or cranky and weepy - maybe both!
Being patient at the end of a pregnancy is so difficult. The flood of emotions you're experiencing is powerful and can be overwhelming at times. Things can start to feel a lot more intense - especially if you're holding on to any negativity. I often hear people in their last few weeks of pregnancy say they're overwhelmed, anxious, or frustrated. The causes are all different, but the intensity of the emotions is always there.
At our 37 week appointments, I tell my clients not to try to bury their big feelings. Holding in that tension is not only bad for one's emotional health, but it can lead to difficulties during labor, delaying progress and increasing pain. It's worth it to let the emotions out into the open. It's okay to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or frustrated. I remind them to acknowledge, honor, and process each emotion.
As you wait for birth, there are several ways you may want to process strong emotions:
- Practice taking some deep, intentional breaths. Inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5, and exhale for 10. As you exhale, imagine the tension lifting from your body and fading.
- Try writing how you a feeling in a journal. Even if you don't regularly journal, seeing the emotions written on paper can be a powerful tool to give you back control.
- Exercise. If you're full term and this sounds awful, don't skip it! Exercise doesn't need to be strenuous to be healing. A brief walk in nature, 10 minutes of low-impact prenatal yoga, or doing the Miles Circuit for optimal labor positioning can all get your blood flowing and help you clear your head.
- Find someone to vent to. Make sure they know you're not really asking for their opinion or their help. (Sometimes they might need to be reminded!) You just want someone to listen to you with no judgment and validate how you're feeling. Support is a crucial element for emotional wellness.
- Pray or meditate. Read some Scripture or poetry, or even a well-crafted Facebook post. Find something to direct your emotions so they feel purposeful and not out of control.
Most importantly, remind yourself that this isn't forever. The last month of pregnancy can feel like a lifetime, but soon enough your baby will be in your arms. Take every opportunity to be reminded that you are strong, you are capable, and you won't have to be patient forever.