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The Case for a "Due Month"

Nothing is more annoying in the final weeks of pregnancy than constantly getting phone calls and texts asking “is baby here yet??”, “so when are you being induced??”, “have you tried (walking, sex, etc) to get labor going?”

So I’m here to tell you…. it’s time to get rid of the “DUE DATE”!!

First things first… it’s nobody’s business but your own to know your baby’s ETA. Many families don’t even disclose this information to their friends or family… they will give nothing more than “baby will be arriving sometime this summer!”  There are many reasons that I support just giving a “guess month”, if you even plan to share this information with others at all.

  • Dates aren’t always accurate.  Most women calculate their EDD (estimated due date) based on the first day of their last menstrual period…. but not all women have a 28-day cycle!! Your dates could be off by as much as a few weeks, depending on the average length of your cycle, when ovulation occurred, and when implantation occured. Even if you get a sonogram, your “40 week date” might be more accurate – but remember:

  • Not all babies arrive at 40 weeks!! Some might decide to enter the world as early as 37 weeks, and others want to hang out until well after 42 weeks. Did you know that the average time for a first time mother to go into spontaneous labor is 41 weeks and 1 day? Only about 5% of babies actually arrive at exactly 40 weeks.

  • Studies find that a more accurate ETA is around 40 weeks and 5 days. (For healthy mothers and babies, both first-time moms and those who have previously given birth.)

  • Dwelling on a “due date” can increase your anxiety. As if there aren’t already enough discomforts at the end of pregnancy, many women greatly increase their stress levels by worrying about whether their baby will arrive “on time” – pressure from friends and family, and sometimes even their care provider, only tends to make things worse.

  • Unnecessary Induction for non-medical reasons carries several risks. Of course, there is definitely a time and place for induction due to medical necessity – it can save lives!! But there has been a disturbing trend in recent years, with unnecessary inductions on the rise. Work schedules, vacations, feeling “tired of being pregnant”, parents who are anxious to meet their baby, and providers who won’t “let” their patients go past a certain date are not good reasons for an induction. (Induction greatly increases the chances of unwanted interventions, assisted delivery, and Cesarean section!)

  • Babies need time to grow and develop on their own schedule. Bringing a baby into the world based on the dates on a calendar increases the rates of prematurity and can have serious health risks for both the baby and mother. If both baby and mom are doing fine, it’s best to let labor happen spontaneously.

  • Family history is a much better indicator. If you or your siblings, mother, grandmother, etc have a history of “post-dates”, then you are more likely to have a longer gestation period as well.

Remember that babies need time to develop, and prepare their fragile bodies for the outside world! Their lungs should be fully developed before they take their first breath. The end of pregnancy can seem like it will last a lifetime, trust me… I know there were times when I wondered if I would be the last pregnant woman left on earth!!!  (Especially since it seemed that every person I saw had to ask me if I was about to burst!!)

The end of pregnancy can be a little less stressful if you aren’t constantly answering questions about “when is that baby coming?” “you’re STILL pregnant??!”  But your baby will come when they are ready. Take the time to savor these moments, because it may not seem like it now, but these days pass quickly!!

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