Having had a relatively straight-forward pregnancy, I found being overdue remarkably difficult. Convinced the baby would be on time, if not early, I spent weeks prepping for my due date. Hospital bag? Check. Listening to relaxation tracks? Check. I even remembered the perineum massages, which require some serious acrobatics when you have a belly the size of a watermelon.
But as the due date came, went, and faded into last week, so too did my energy and patience. Being pregnant was hard, labor was daunting, and I was done. I felt like my body had failed me, or that I had failed my baby — why couldn’t I get this last bit, the pretty crucial bit of going into labor, right? I genuinely began to believe I would be pregnant forever.
On top of the anti-climax, the worrying and the not insignificant sense of discomfort, I was being bombarded by messages about whether I’d had the baby yet, or well-meaning but anxiety-inducing comments about the dangers of induction. Those extra days waiting for the baby can feel like an eternity, so be a pal and avoid saying the following things to your overdue friend:
1. “Have you tried eating curry/ having sex/drinking raspberry tea?”
Unless you know of a secret technique that scientifically works — and for some reason doesn’t show up on a Google search — keep quiet. Chances are your friend has either tried it, or heard of it and didn’t want to try it. Obviously, if she asks you for advice, feel free to let loose on the labor-inducing powers of whatever worked for you/your neighbor/woman you saw on TV.
2. “STILL pregnant?”
I almost broke off contact with a relative over this one. (There is no such thing as overreacting when you are close to 42 weeks pregnant). Trust me when I say that you won’t be the only person asking your friend whether she’s had the baby yet, and yet another message reminding her she’s overdue isn’t what she needs. This is especially heinous if you’ve somehow – even if accidentally – managed to inject a note of incredulity in your voice.
3. “Sleep now, because when the baby sleeps you’ll never sleep again!”
Not great advice to someone who is most likely finding it impossible to sleep. (Reminder: there’s a baby dancing on her now pea-sized bladder). Also, being told that you have yet more sleepless nights ahead of you, when you already feel terrible, isn’t super helpful.
4. “Whatever you do, don’t get induced.”
Whether and when an overdue woman asks, or accepts, to be induced is a completely personal matter. So unless you’re her doctor, or she asks, keep your opinions on induction to yourself. The last thing someone needs is a horror story about a procedure they may very well have to go through.
There are plenty of things you CAN say to help during those overdue days:
“Did you know the French have a gestation period of 41 weeks?”
Reminding your friend that if she were in France she would be a week less overdue, or not overdue at all, is reassuring. Maybe the baby is late because they’re emulating French chic, and who wouldn’t want that? More seriously, the estimated due date is just that — an estimate. Some medical practitioners say it would be more helpful to talk to women about a due month (37 – 42 weeks), rather than a due date.
Share the story of how you/your friend/relative was also overdue.
It’ll help your friend feel like they aren’t alone, and like they aren’t the only person not spontaneously going into labor. If it was you who was overdue, sympathize with how difficult it is (even if you personally didn’t find it that hard).
“You’ve made it really cozy in there.”
I loved this one, because it chased away the feeling that I had “failed” at pregnancy by not going into labor on time. The problem all along was that I was too good at pregnancy. But seriously, it refocused my thoughts on my baby, that he was fine, and the amazing stuff that my body had done to grow him.
“How are you feeling?”
While it’s unadvisable to constantly check in asking if your friend has gotten round to having that baby yet, there’s nothing wrong with simply asking her how she is doing. That way she doesn’t have to state the obvious, and feels like someone is finally asking after her rather than just the baby she’s carrying.
Finally, however gross or inappropriate you might find it, when she gleefully calls you to tell you she has finally lost her mucus plug, just cheer.
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