Pregnancy Diary: Week 38 – The waiting game (& how to get baby to come sooner?)

cerclage success

So now we’re officially at a week past being full term which means cerclage success! Hurrah for that, but now that this pregnancy is at the business end, I’m oh-so-ready for this bebe to come and meet us. And so the wait begins…

© Ange Noy | NZ Real Health
The waiting game (and wanting to speed it up!)

I know baby has only just gone full term so some may question why I want her out so soon after going to so much effort to keep her in; the answer is that it’s a balancing act. The midwives/obstetricians wanted her to go to full term which meant making it to 37 weeks.

I had my cerclage stitch removed at 36 weeks but due to the complications (nicked artery and subsequent stitches to repair it) I preferably needed the wound to heal and stitches to dissolve before going through birth. Then there’s the whole thing about her measuring in the 90th percentile for her abdomen; often these measurements are not necessarily correct – I don’t know anyone who it’s been right for – however, if it is correct going to 40 weeks and beyond may cause problems with the birth such as getting stuck or some other form of delivery difficulty.

Then there’s the time of year. I know this is a social issue rather than a health deal, however as someone who has had to deal with a December birthday all my life (as has my husband) it’s not so much fun. Friends go away on holidays with their families so you rarely have a decent party with your mates. Everyone’s so focused on prepping for Christmas there’s not much buildup for your birthday. People lump both your Christmas and birthday presents into one – and yes, I know you should just be grateful for any gift you receive but try getting a kid to understand why their sibling and friends get two presents a year plus a decent party with their friends and they get one gift with pretty much just their family (and Christmas decorations everywhere!).

So… can you encourage baby to come sooner?

Now that I’ve finished my nutrition coaching qualification, sorted my online shop and prepped my personal training business for my return from maternity leave, I decided it’s not the time to start anything else new. Which also means I’ve reached the end of my tether and I’m bored, super heavy and over it. This baby bump really is particularly big, stretched out and low (you know it when even the midwives, A&E doctors and obstetricians look at you almost apologetically…), plus 17 weeks of bed rest mean my body isn’t used to carting around the extra 15kgs I’ve put on during the pregnancy. My belly button popped out and flattened ages ago which it didn’t do last time!

I recently did a callout on social media for tips on how to hurry things along. It’s been one of my most popular posts to date so many women who have been through childbirth have an opinion! Of course I understand that typically it’s a hormone-based trigger or something similar that causes labour to start – the baby will come when she’s ready. But that’s no fun. And environment always has the potential to be a factor.

Here are some of the suggestions that came up:

  • Kerb walking (one foot on the footpath kerb or a similar height, one on the roadside and walk along)
  • Pineapple (has to be fresh, apparently there is something to this scientifically but you’d have to eat 7+ whole pineapples and you’re likely to have a sore tongue, mouth ulcers and extreme diarrhoea before it could possibly have any effect)
  • Acupuncture
  • Cinnamon, chamomile or raspberry leaf tea
  • Trampoline jumping (decided I want to avoid a prolapsed uterus too much to try this!)
  • Breast pump (hormone stimulation)
  • Sex (for same reason as above; banned from it by the doctors to prevent infection so that’s out of the question!)
  • Swimming (also banned to prevent infection)
  • Staircase/steep hill climbing
  • Reflexology
  • Spicy food
  • Long distance walking (too scared in case baby starts dropping out 30 minutes from my front door)
  • Dancing to Katy Perry
  • Birth mix (naturopathic remedy)
  • Swiss ball hip rolls
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Scrubbing the floors

I’ve tried a handful of the above and of course none of it’s worked. But there’s no harm in trying… right?

Looking back: Complications and cerclage success

If you’ve been following my pregnancy diaries you’ll know I’ve had a raft of problems – cervical incompetence and subsequent cerclage surgery at 20 weeks, extended modified bed rest, cerclage embedded in scar tissue resulting in difficult removal and subsequent nicked artery from it. For anyone reading this and facing the prospect of having a cervical stitch yourself – don’t be put off by my story. At each stage I’ve been told in retrospect that every complication has been statistically very unlikely; I just happen to be the statistical improbability!

Given I had zero complications and a normal pregnancy with my first daughter, doctors still don’t know why this all happened for my second. What I do know is that if I choose to get pregnant again in the future, due to the cervical incompetence and ‘trauma’ to my cervix from having the stitch, I would need another cerclage placed at around the 12-13 week mark as a preventative treatment.

Would we have made it this far without the cervical stitch? Maybe. After all, it’s not like they removed the cerclage and the baby just fell out. She’s defying the doctors and midwives and has decided to stay put (even despite having a stretch and sweep procedure performed three days ago that doesn’t seem to have worked, but verified my cervix is pretty much paper thin, or fully effaced, and I’m already 2-3 cm dilated!). I’ve been having almost constant braxton hicks contractions every 10-20 mins throughout the day and night for two weeks now since the cerclage was removed. Worse at night, but nothing strong enough to push a baby out.

She could literally come any day now, and it’s likely to be a fast enough labour that my midwives have mentally prepped me for the possibility of a home birth – i.e. possibly wouldn’t make it to hospital in time – so we’ll see what happens over the next week or so. Fingers crossed it all goes as smoothly as possible!

Image / NZ Real Health

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