Sometimes, when it feels like I’m living through a series of glitches in life, my mother tells me it’s because Mercury is in retrograde. It is a common belief that three to four times a year, this phenomenon can cause certain things in one’s life to go haywire. So if you are nearing your due date, you may want to know how it will affect you. Are you more likely to go into labor when Mercury is in retrograde, or is there no connection at all?
Scientifically speaking, there is no proof that women are more likely to go into labor during this time of the year versus any other time. In fact, for normal pregnancies, there is no known cause of labor, other than it happens when your body is ready. OB-GYN Mary O’Toole from Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California tells Romper that there’s no way to really know when you’ll go into labor. “We do not acutely know what causes labor to start," she says, so attributing the start of labor to Mercury retrograde is not a definitive measure.
So why do people think Mercury retrograde can affect when you go into labor? To understand this, it is first important to know what Mercury retrograde actually is, physically and astrologically speaking. According to NASA’s StarChild website, the physical aspect is when the planet Mercury aligns with the Earth in a position where it seems like it is retrograding instead of its usual prograding. It’s all about relative positioning, the website explained, and it’s called retrograde based on the apparent movement versus its actual movement. For example, if you are in a parked car, and the car next to you starts backing up slowly, it may look like to you that you are moving forward. Similarly, when Mercury passes Earth’s orbit, it lines up in a way where it looks like it is moving backwards, even though it isn’t.
In astrology, explained AstroStyle, communication, technology, and travel are ruled by Mercury, so when it is in retrograde, it causes disruptions in these aspects of your life. So if you believe in astrological lore, you may attribute delayed flights, missed calls, or misunderstanding to Mercury being in retrograde. You may take it further and assume that it will throw your due date off track or cause you to go into labor sooner than expected, but considering labor doesn’t fall under communication, travel, or tech, that may not be the case.
Medically, experts haven’t yet definitively explained what actually causes you to go into labor. According to Fit Pregnancy, a study in the journal PLOS One found that when telomeres (part of your DNA that affect how cells age) shows up in the amniotic fluid, they can send a signal to your baby that it’s time to be born. The article explained that this study reinforced the theory that labor is initiated by the baby, but what causes these telomeres to send the signals when they do is still not exactly known.
If you have a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy, What To Expect noted that your baby should be born anywhere between 39 and 41 weeks after the first day of your last period. So if you have a healthy baby, and are in the last stretch of your pregnancy, you could go into labor at anytime, regardless of the planet’s orbital alignment.
Although, if you believe in retrograde Mercury’s disruptions, you may want to be extra prepared for glitches in your travel to the hospital, complications with communicating, and technological problems, like a broken phone or a glitchy GPS. Just know that your baby will come when it’s ready, and soon you’ll have plenty of retrograde sleep to show for it.
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