Lessons learned from April the Giraffe

Not April, just a giraffe at my local zoo.

Not April, just a giraffe at my local zoo.

It’s been over a month now since the Animal Adventure Park started streaming the live cam of April the Giraffe‘s “imminent birth” and…..still no baby.

Some examples of the kinds of things people are saying about April on Facebook:

From CBS Denver: “OK, April. We need to talk. Bend down here. You know that baby you’re carrying? Spit it out. We’ve been more than patient about this. It’s time to produce the giraffe-child. Nod your head if you understand this. April? Drop the hay and listen, please…”

The Daily Mirror: “Is this the longest pregnancy ever?! This is why April hasn’t given birth yet!”

Kind of reminds me of my favorite site to send to moms who are past their estimated delivery date and are dealing with the constant question “Have you had that baby YET?”

Seeing this huge surge of interest on a large scale is not unlike what human moms experience! Once you hit that “full term” mark, everyone starts watching, checking in, and expecting baby news at any time. The scrutiny is real! But is it helpful?

Two things that I think are real and effect human moms:
Birth Lessons from April the Giraffe
1. The Watched Pot Syndrome – While April is extremely unlikely to be aware of the millions of people who are on the watch for her baby, human moms absolutely ARE aware of being watched, and of the constant barrage of questions and comments. And observation can absolutely effect them. I promise the comments of “Are you STILL pregnant?” or “Holy Cow! You’re about to pop!” or “Would you hurry up and have this baby already?” are completely unhelpful, and often leave expecting moms feeling hurt and even more impatient personally. Even once labor begins, observation can inhibit labor from getting well established. It’s one reason I prefer to leave families alone to labor during the earlier parts of labor and provide support by phone while things are mild and gettign established. I wrote about my experiences with Watched Pot Syndrome here

2. Unrealistic expectations – The window of time for a full term human birth is about the same amount of time the camera have been watching April. While I’m not an expert of giraffe gestation, I would think there’s a similarly wide window of normal, full term gestation. If a woman’s well-meaning doctor, doula, family and friends all start telling her “Could come any minute now!” at the very beginning of that window, it’s going to feel like a LOOOONG time before baby comes! If you think you’ve waited a long time to see April give birth, imagine how it might feel to still be pregnant three months after everyone started telling you it was time to have your baby! And yet that is what most first time moms experience, since first time moms average one week *after* the estimated delivery date.

I loved this tweet from an expecting mom that just summed it up:

Giraffetweet


I hope April gives birth soon and that she and her calf are healthy. I also hope that when those around you are in that final window called “full term” you will remember to exercise patience and support as she awaits her baby’s birth, because to her the wait feels TWICE as long as we’ve all been waiting for April the Giraffe to birth!

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