If I had a dollar for every pregnant person who has said, "You know, I have this feeling I'm going to go into labor before my due date" and then went on to have a baby after the due date, I would be rich! Or at least I'd have a nice little rainy day fund. As a doula, I encourage clients to listen to their gut instinct when it comes to safety, health, and making the best decisions. When it comes to guessing a birth date, however, even your gut instinct can't predict accurately. In most cases, end-of-pregnancy brings about exhaustion and frustration, which often lead to a severe case of wishful thinking. Below are five strategies to replace wishful thinking with realistic preparation, and help you make it through the last few weeks of pregnancy without completely losing your mind.
Think late, not early. When I was pregnant with my first child, a nurse in my care provider's office said these exact words to me. I felt annoyed that she thought she knew better than me and decided to ignore her advice. As it turned out, she was very right. Mentally, you'll be in a better place if you assume that your real due date is two weeks out from your given due date ("due + two"). Assume you will be pregnant until that date.
Answer questions carefully. When people ask, "When are you due?" answer: "Sometime in [due month]." When people ask, "How much longer?" answer with a time frame that includes two weeks past your given due date.
Fixate on dates, not a date. In your last month of pregnancy (remember, that month includes the two weeks after your given due date), build in lots of time for rest and relaxation surrounded by fun and exciting dates and plans. The more you things have to look forward to that don't include giving birth (lunch with a friend, a pedicure, a movie night, a walk in the park with your partner), the less you will focus on when that will happen.
Find an end-of-pregnancy mantra. "I will not be pregnant forever" is a tried and true mantra. Or, "By this time next month, I will be holding my baby" (depending on where you are in your due + two). "My baby knows when to be born" and "My baby needs this time to grow and develop" are mantras that will help you refocus on the important work your body is doing. And then there's the classic "This too shall pass."
Surround yourself with positivity. Positive birth stories, helpful and healthy advice, friends and family who will help lift your spirits -- all of these will help the last weeks and days of pregnancy feel more tolerable and even, enjoyable.