Women and babies are not made with a pop out button like some Thanksgiving turkeys indicating being done. That pesky due date becomes such great topic of debate. It can lead to unnecessary interventions (such as induction, provider change because of regulations or cesarean), emotional unease (I am broken, this baby is never coming, I am LATE one minute past 40 weeks), physical distress by way of decreased pregnancy change tolerance, and mess with a woman’s work schedule (when to start maternity leave or return to work date).
Prior to home pregnancy tests and ultrasound dating, the due date was much more of a due month. Now it seems everyone has bought into this mysterious due date being something very hard fact and unfailing.
Henci Goer wrote a tremendously helpful article called “When is that baby due? ” several years back that sheds light on this very issue. She states: “When it comes to determining your due date, “things,” as the Gilbert and Sullivan ditty goes, “are seldom what they seem.” The methods of calculation are far from exact, common assumptions about the average length of pregnancy are wrong and calling it a “due date” is misleading. Understanding these uncertainties may help to curb your natural impatience to know exactly when labor will begin.”
The most common way women are finding out the due date of their baby is by using an online calculator such as this:
However, this even from the federal website does not take into consideration ovulation, only length of cycle (which is an improvement over straight up LMP dating).
So how do women handle this notion of a due date? I asked the question and here are some responses.
- KZ - “Last time, I told everyone my due date, and when E had other plans, I got the, “Have you had that baby, YET?? How long are they gonna make you go?” *cringe* This time, I’m wising up and saying Spring. That’s it. Spring.”
- SL – “I used a “due season”. I told my three year old that the leaves would change on the tree and we would probably have Thanksgiving dinner and she would be here sometime after that. ”
- KMC-M -”I love the Ish… december-ish”
- CLM -”I always give very generic answers to avoid the annoying “aren’t you due yet???” comments. I’ve also written on Christmas cards … “baby #3, due Spring 20??”. Once I was due at the very end of July. My well meaning neighbor was asking … “are you STILL pregnant?” on July 4th. Ugh.”
- LE – “Whenever someone asked my due date I always said, “he’ll come when he’s ready” or “when God decides he’s ready”
- SC – “Mid to late month was the closest I’d get.”
Seems these particular women either have previously gotten bitten by the pesky due date or learned in the first pregnancy not to put too much stock in an arbitrarily determined date. I say good for them!
As a midwife assistant, I now participate in the baby assessments. Some of these post birth assessments gestationally date baby. Often the dates are different than the due date assumption. Some earlier and some later. This happens even with women who knew exactly when the last menstrual period, ovulation, and conception occurred along with cycle length.
Only the baby (and God according to my belief) knows the due date aka when he or she will press start.
Early is not one day prior to 40 weeks EDD just as late is not 40 weeks and 1 day over EDD. Full term pregnancy is defined as 37 weeks-42 weeks gestation.
I think it is high time “we” layoff pressuring mamas and their babies. “We” must stop trying to evict them earlier than they desire without a true medical reason. One day to any adult is nothing, but even a day to an unborn baby coming earthside can mean the difference between alive and thriving.