Home > Musings > Timing

Time is a strange thing for a midwife. Sometimes after being up all night for a birth I lose track of what day it is. The day a baby is due is called an Estimated Due Date (EDD) with estimated being the key word. A baby can safely arrive anytime within 5 weeks of that date so scheduling other events can be tricky. Of course other events are often scheduled way before a client’s due date so midwives learn to work around it. We know to just go about our regular routine with the expectation that it could be interrupted at anytime.

A few of those regular events were scheduled for June long before I had mamas due. Like my birthday which comes once a year, and my son’s high school graduation which comes once in a lifetime. I didn’t mind sharing my birthday with a new baby–in fact I was really hoping I would attend a birth on my birthday. It almost happened but one boy was born an hour before my birthday and another one tried to share my day but decided to wait.

I did mind missing my son’s graduation and fortunately I didn’t have to. All the babies were courteous of my family time–thanks guys! After worrying a bit about whether or not I’d be interrupted in the middle of the ceremony, once it was over, I found myself worrying about the fact that these babies were “late.” So far, all the June babies have been born after their EDD–one was 10 days over, one was 11 days over, and one was 14 days over. It’s really the pressure of the medical model of care that makes me worry. Some of our state’s regulations are based on this medical model that says its dangerous for babies to be born post-term.

When I first began practicing 15 years ago it was no big deal for a woman to go 2 weeks past her EDD, but these days doctors won’t stand for anyone being even 1 or 2 days over. Artificial induction of labor is as common as a cold. My clients had people saying to them: “You’re over due? When are they going to induce?” I even find myself suggesting methods of induction to my clients. I certainly don’t suggest using drugs like pitocin to induce labor but I do have plenty of “natural” methods (herbs, cervical massage, castor oil). I don’t recommend these things because I’m impatient, but because I’m required to send them in for a medical consult if they reach 42 weeks gestation. None of the moms want to endure another trip to the clinic or OB office so they’re willing to try these natural remedies. But is it really natural to use outside stimulus to start a labor? Or is the natural thing to let nature take it’s own course? It’s just sad that modern moms have all this pressure on them about time–pressure from themselves, from their friends, families, medical science, and even from their midwife who’s supposed to trust nature’s wisdom.