40 Weeks Pregnant and Counting

Six tips on how to stay positive when your due date has come and gone.


My son was born seven days past my due date, and I remember those last weeks as unceasingly uncomfortable, characterized by the sensation of a bowling ball bouncing on my cervix and the conviction that this baby was never going to be born. All this, plus the perennial conversation starter: "No baby yet?" (The only appropriate response to which is to tear the speaker's head off and the pickle it, because your stomach is too squished with baby to be able to really eat much.)

I remember being asked how far along I was and responding, miserably, truthfully, "Ten months."

Yes, most of us know that only 5% of babies are born on their due date. (Some midwives and ob-gyns even do you the torture/courtesy of giving you a "due week" rather than day, to prevent undue fixating on what is after all a rather arbitrary date.) And yes, most of us also know that first pregnancies are more prone to "running late," and that some women tend toward slightly longer pregnancies.

I even learned, reading this article on the Mayo Clinic website and also living my life, that baby boys are for some mysterious reason late more often. This makes sense to me in an anecdotal, thoroughly un-scientific way – my son has consistently been generally behind my daughter in all developmental stages except for jumping, ball-throwing, and vehicle-type-identifying.

Still, all this is cold comfort for the 41+-week-pregnant lady. Here's what I will say, as someone who had a painfully overdue pregnancy: I'm sorry. It sucks. And that not-knowingness is going to be, sorry to say, a big part of parenting. And while there's nothing that you want in the world other than for that dang baby to arrive, here are a few things I found helpful:

1. Snoogling Up

In the last few weeks of my lingering pregnancy I became unnaturally obsessed with my body pillow. If you have back pain, a body pillow is ten times more important at this point than anyone else who might want to cuddle or have some space in the bed. Move over, baby-daddy. It's Snoogle time.

2. Walking

I know it's annoying, but apparently walking really can help induce labor. And even if it doesn't you have to admit, it's one of the least annoying exercises out there. I mean, you can stop and get a croissant. Then again there's also...

3. Swimming

Even the most pert little Kate Middleton pregnancy is going to be feeling heavy towards the end. Taking a float gives you some much-needed moments of weightlessness.

4. Write a letter to the baby

I know you're probably not feeling at your most creative right now. But take a few moments to write a letter to your baby – what your pregnancy has been like, what you know about the baby so far ("You really hate loud movies! And you get super psyched whenever I drink tea!"), your hopes and dreams for the little bub. It will help you to get in touch with the actual child that will be so much more than indigestion, and soon. Promise.

5. Do all the goofy allegedly-inducing things

Who knows if all the old wives' tales work? At this point, it's worth a shot. There's always someone who will swear eating spicy food induced her labor, or having a glass of wine, or soaking in the tub, or taking a walk, or – I know, I know – having sex. I'm going to tell you something here, because I care and want to help – a midwife friend told me, when I emailed her in overdue anguish, that I had to have sex with my husband. This was literally (no offense, dear hubby) the last thing I wanted to do. Ever. Again. But we did, and it was awful, and a few hours later I was in labor. I don't know if that was why, but it could have been, and anyway now it's kind of a funny "at least it will never be that bad!" story.

6. Repeat your mantra

"This baby will be born," my mother told me as my due date slipped away, and it became my mantra. I suggest adopting a similar saying, whether it's to reassure yourself now or during labor. The baby will be born, and you'll kiss his downy head and say, "Now what took you so long?" It will happen. It really, really will.