Most women would agree that the waiting game in the days and weeks before the baby’s arrival can be frustrating and at the very least exhausting.
We are excited to hold our little ones in our arms instead of in our tummies, but there is plenty of evidence that babies will come when they are ready and not before.
As I’m in the middle of that particular stage with kiddo number 2 I figured I would find out what the perks were for waiting on spontaneous labor…
What causes labor to begin?
There are a number of researchers out there who believe that the most important trigger of labor is a hormone released by the baby. This is basically baby’s way of saying “I’m done developing”.
Your body responds by making changes to the cervix which creates the space and opening for the baby to come out. By the time your body goes into labor on its own chances are there has been a lot of the work done needed to get baby out already.
Your body is more prepared to deliver the Baby
Chances are you will have noticed some of the “ready for labor” changes in the last few weeks already. But if you go into spontaneous labor there is likely a lot more that has happened then you may have felt.
Things like the ligaments relaxing in your hips may be fairly obvious, especially if you are having mobility issues as a result. But something like your cervix dilating and effacing may not be as easy to discern especially if you work with a Care Provider who respects your right to refuse internal exams.
There is also evidence to suggest that during this time (usually a couple of hours to a day before delivery) some of the blood vessels disconnect between your uterus and the placenta. It’s not a lot but the theory is that this is to reduce the risk of hemorrhage during or post-birth. And while some women may feel them most of us don’t.
The other factor is the Braxton-Hicks when your baby is ready the practice contractions are like your uterus working out in preparation for the marathon ahead. If you build up the strength for a little longer the easier it will be on your body.
And it gives your body the time it needs to produce and use some of the hormones that YOU need during the delivery. Things like relaxin don’t just float around in our system waiting for our bodies to need them. It can take some time to pull all the materials together and manufacture what our bodies need before we can use it effectively.
All of this adds up to smoother, lower risk of complications birth experience for you.
Baby Develops More
Infants who are born after a full-term pregnancy have more time to complete some of the developmental miles stones. So waiting for the baby to give your body the “go” signal typically means:
More time building muscle and strength
You know all those kicks and punches you keep feeling? That is a baby’s way of developing muscle and the strength they are going to need after birth.
The more they have time to practice the stronger they get.
More time to put on weight
Babies don’t start packing on the ounces until a lot later in pregnancy than most of us believe. And if they are really little they get cold really fast!
Those few extra ounces are necessary to help keep them snug and warm even in that cute outfit we picked out that looks warm enough to us.
And before you freak out about a bigger baby meaning more painful labor there is no research that supports that and most women would tell you that size doesn’t really affect the pain levels.
Want an example? I had a 9lbs 1oz baby and the whole process was painless… you can read My Birth Story if you want.
Reduced risk of low blood sugar, infection and jaundice
Low blood sugar, infections, and jaundice at birth all have risks (some more than others), chances are if baby takes a little longer before birth their system could be working with yours to balance all that before hand.
They are also using our immune system to bolster theirs, so if you have an infection that could pass to baby a little extra time waiting is a benefit since your system will supply them with more protection.
While the lungs start developing in the second trimester (around week 26) baby only starts practicing breathing around Week 32. By giving the baby a full 8 weeks of practice we are letting their lungs and the muscles that support breathing develop the strength and coordination needed.
Infants born as little as two weeks early have an increased risk of complications specifically around breathing and lung issues.
After baby is born chances are they are going to want to feed. And wether you choose to breastfeed or formula from the start, giving baby the time until spontaneous labor helps them build up the coordination, control, and strength to latch (on you or bottle) and suck better.
It also helps them practice the tongue and throat control they need to feed in those last few weeks.
Increased Brain Development
The brain grows about a third of its size in the weeks between 35 and 40. And while brain size doesn’t determine smarts or anything there is a whole lot more then just the physical size development going on.
When we let our bodies control the childbirth timing it tends to be better for both our and baby’s recovery time after.
Meaning we get to go home with baby sooner. But also that we will likely feel better physically and have fewer risks of complications after birth.
While knowing that our postpartum recovery (or Fourth Trimester) is a time to take care of ourselves as well as our newborn who wouldn’t want a faster more complete recovery in a shorter time frame?
So as hard as it can be to maintain your patience and let your body do the work for you it can be a good thing to sit back, relax and get a little bit of extra rest.
I get it, this is easier said than done when you’ve been pregnant forever and just want to cuddle that sweet little bundle. I’m right there with you, which is why I had to look this stuff up!