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September 05, 2017

The final countdown: 5 ways to pass the time when you’re waiting for your baby

Women's Health Pregnancy
Katie_Gagnon_Iron Trish English /for PhillyVoice

Waiting for labor to begin can be a real pain. The anticipation of meeting your baby can be overwhelming: happy excitement mixed with the trepidation of labor and delivery.

For several months you’ve had a due date marked on your calendar. You and your partner, your loved ones and friends have been counting down the months, then weeks, and now days until your baby is supposed to arrive.

And then that day comes and goes with no sign of impending labor. At least, that is what happened to me and is common for many mothers.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, only one in every 20 pregnant women will give birth on their due date. Because an expecting mother’s due date is an estimate, there is some guessing about when your little one will actually arrive.

This can be tough for us mamas because we have had this countdown going in our heads for several months. Since September is most common month to give birth in America there are many women currently counting down the seconds until their baby is in their arms. I can relate.

This time last year I was a couple of weeks away from my due date and waking up every morning saying, “Will it happen today?!” I tiptoed around waiting for my water to break like in the movies. It felt like I was nearing the end of a marathon with no idea where exactly the finish line would be.

I had all this nervous, excited energy that I knew I needed to channel into something positive to keep myself distracted and manage my nerves about labor and delivery. I tried to rest and relax, to enjoy those last nights of uninterrupted sleep, but sometimes I found myself really wound up.

There was a lot to keep me busy at the time because my husband and I were moving into a new house. I tried to focus on that. But days seemed like weeks as my due date came and went.

At every weekly check up with my obstetrician I was told that my cervix was not effaced and I was not beginning to dilate. I would leave feeling a little dejected, knowing that the waiting game would continue. When I now reflect on the last weeks of my pregnancy I remember long chats with my baby belly, special time with my husband and a beautiful lunch with my mother. It was hard to get through those days because of my excitement and anticipation but it was a special, unique time in my life that I now think of fondly.

If you are nearing or past your due date, it is normal to have a rush of emotions as you wait to become a new mother or introduce another child to your family. Here are some of the things I did to pass the time while keeping myself healthy and calm that may work for you too.


There were mornings last September when I was baking muffins before the sun came up. Even though I was exhausted from my pregnancy, in the last few weeks I had a ton of energy that would wake me early. I took that activity to the kitchen.

In addition to some baked goods– which I would devour straight out of the oven – I made some freezable food that my husband and I could have once the baby arrived, like soup, chili and lasagna. I also stocked up on non-perishables so my pantry would not go bare in those first couple of weeks of motherhood.


My grandmother used to say, “When all else fails, go shopping!”

Go over your list and make sure you have everything you need to bring baby home from the hospital. Remember to buy for yourself too. New mothers need a lot of supplies to recover and feel comfortable during those first few weeks.

A few of my recommended necessities for new mamas include cotton underwear, comfy pajama sets with button down tops and some great nursing bras. If you have already maxed out your baby budget, window shopping in a mall can help to pass the time. Plus walking can help induce labor if your cervix has started to efface.


Even if your pets are the center of your universe, they will soon take a backseat to your baby.

Enjoy the time with your fur baby before his little sister or brother arrives. Pamper them and spend lots of time showing them love. Buy enough of their food and supplies to last a month and ensure they will be properly taken care of when the time comes for you to head to the hospital.

Cuddle on the couch or take a long walk in the park. You’ll benefit from this time and so will your animals.


I took a bubble bath every day between my due date and when I delivered my son. While soaking, I would rub my bump and talk to my baby knowing that any day my body would go through the miracle of birth and my son would be in my arms instead of in my belly.

I spent this time reflecting on the experience of pregnancy and my plans for motherhood. These meditative moments helped quiet my mind and prepare me for the big event.

I spent time reading (and re-reading) books on labor and delivery, caring for baby and a great, long tome. And I got a manicure, pedicure and a haircut knowing I probably would not get to the salon for a while when post-partum.


I packed and re-packed our hospital bags a few times as I waited for labor to begin. This was another chore to distract me, and it made me feel like I was doing something productive to prepare for the big day.

Busying my mind with the “what-ifs” of what I may want or need while also trying not to bring ten suitcases was a great activity.

Full disclosure: I brought too much stuff.

The best items in my go bag were my favorite perfume; a super soft blanket that I cuddled with before and after delivery; pajamas, robe and slippers that I was comfortable lounging and greeting visitors in; and a special outfit to bring my son home from the hospital.

Katie English/for PhillyVoice

Katie had a few bags packed and ready to go for when it was time to head to the hospital: her essentials for labor and delivery; a bag of clothing, pajamas and toiletries; and her baby boy's diaper bag packed with outfits he could wear home.

Even though waiting for him was hard, my son was born exactly when he was supposed to arrive in this world. Going past my estimated due date tested my patience, but as I reflect on those weeks I do not remember feeling anxious.

Rather, I remember sharing special moments with my husband and family; savoring those sweet belly kicks and the final days with my baby bump; and the excited anticipation of knowing that I would soon meet the love of my life.

If you are near or past your due date, take heart: Your baby will soon be in your arms! Try to enjoy the last moments of your pregnancy and give yourself a little “me time” in the meantime.

What did you do to help pass the time as you waited for your baby to arrive? Share your thoughts with me and other parents in the comments section below or tweet me at @ThePhillyVoice and @KathleenEGagnon.

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