Dear soon-to-be mom trying to induce labor,
Congratulations on that baby in there! I heard you were getting a little tired of this whole pregnancy thing, and I wanted to stop over to give you a bit of advice on inducing labor. I know you’ve been Googling “how to bring on contractions,” and I’m sure you’ve gotten the requisite results indicating that pineapple, or jumping jacks, or spicy foods is just the thing, but my one bit of advice to you, as you try to induce labor is don’t do it. I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear. I know you were hoping for a magical method that would get things going tonight, but please, just wait it out. You’re hot, you’re huge, you’re uncomfortable, and gosh, you just want to meet that baby, I know, but hear me out on this one—I promise you’ll thank me.
The thing you might not understand as a first time mom is that, no matter how hard pregnancy is, having a new baby is even harder. I know this is tough to believe when you’re up 40 pounds and sweating your way through another business meeting, but really, this is the easy part. Even if you’re not sleeping much, you’re sleeping more than you will once the baby comes home. Even if you’re uncomfortable, you’re going to hurt worse after you give birth and you won’t, like you do now, have the option to come home, plop down on the couch and request a foot rub from your hubby. I know, pregnancy is hard but please, just believe me that babies are harder.
Babies being hard isn’t the only reason that you should hold off on trying to induce labor, though. As exhausting as they can be, babies bring far more joy than hardship. There is so much to love about a newborn. There are their tiny cries, their flexing fingers and the way they wake up every now and then and look deeply into your eyes, as if to say, “I know you’re mine.” There are cuddles and bonding and love, and the best thing of all, they grow! Magically, right in front of your eyes, they turn from newborns, to babies, to toddlers. And, my son’s not there yet so I can’t personally vouch for this, but I’ve heard they even turn into kids one day.
Your baby, the one you knew existed before anyone else, the one you gave up coffee and sushi for, the one you just can’t wait to meet, one day that little baby will crawl over the bars of their crib, walk into your room, and request peanut butter waffles for breakfast. Can you believe it?
The reason you should hold off on trying to induce labor is that having a baby is permanent. Not the baby part, that does change, but the parenting, the having-a-person-who-you-love-more-than-anything-and-would-sacrifice-anything-for part? That’s forever. Pregnancy, as beautiful, uncomfortable, wild and maddening as it is, is very, very temporary. After they’re here, you can’t go back, and even though life will be richer and more beautiful for their existence, from time to time you’ll probably find yourself wistful for a simpler time, for the time it was just you and your partner, for when they were safe in your belly.
If you’re close enough to your due date to want to induce labor, then you, my friend, are going to be a mommy very, very soon. Sure, it might be 7, 10 or even 20 days from now, but within the month, you’ll be holding your wiggly, wet newborn in your arms and the pains of pregnancy will be long forgotten.
So my advice to you—you soon-to-be mom dying to induce labor—is to put down the pineapple juice and cut out those jumping jacks. Instead of walking that extra mile, go out to dinner with your partner and really talk, talk about yourselves and each other, talk about the past and the future, and tell each other, over and over again, how madly in love with one another you are. Instead of swallowing that hot pepper, take a long, hot bath and reread your favorite book. Put down the breast pump and call an old friend, have a long talk, reminisce about your younger days, and plan a visit for a few months from now. When you get the desire to try to induce labor, think about what you love and what brings you joy, and go do that instead.
When labor starts, there will be no stopping it. You might recognize it’s the real deal after the first contraction, or it might take you a little while to believe it’s really happening. Your water may break early or may break late. Maybe labor will go just like you planned—candles, massage, and counter-pressure included—or maybe it won’t. Maybe your labor will stall or pushing won’t work, maybe your baby will enter the world through a cut in your tummy instead of with a final push, but in the end, you’ll have a baby. And that baby—beautiful, pink and rooting—will be yours forever.
So for now, mama, let going of needing to be in control. Let go of needing to know when. Stop trying to bring on contractions and revel in the impermanent state of pregnancy. Enjoy the now, look forward to the future, and know that soon, very soon, your life is going to change forever.
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