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March 1, 2018

Birth Options | Part Three: Estimated Due Dates

estimated due date

Every woman who’s ever been pregnant knows that your “estimated due date” is the most important date in your life for a while. It’s the date you put in your calendar. It’s the date you look forward to for nine months. It’s the date you tell people about for so long. But did you know only about 4% of babies arrive on their due date?

In this post I want to take a look at the reliability of due dates and why so many care providers suggest unnecessary inductions based around these dates. We tend to rely on these dates as an exact science and expect our babies to arrive right on time. Believe me, I understand – I carried my son to 41 weeks and I’m not gonna say it was easy, but there’s more to consider.

maternity session, outdoor

It’s just an estimate

When we are given a due date, the thing we really need to focus on is that it’s an ESTIMATE. It’s not a given and it’s certainly not set in stone. Your baby is going to show up whenever he or she pleases and there’s really no planning for that. The average gestation for a first time baby is 41 weeks and 1 day. So if your care provider suggests induction at 41 weeks, you aren’t even allowing your body to get to the average!

Many care providers will figure out your due date based on your LMP (last menstrual period). We all know that every woman’s cycle is different. Length of a cycle and date of ovulation can vary by several days, which could drastically affect your due date. With my first pregnancy, my due date changed by almost a month after our first ultrasound. There are so many factors to consider and it’s important to keep all these things in mind when you’re given that date.

So why do 41% of women find themselves dealing with a care provider who tries to push an induction for a non-medical reason?

Inductions

If we take our due dates too seriously, it may be tempting to have an elective induction once we’ve gone past it. The struggle is REAL at the end of a pregnancy and we mommas just want to meet our little ones!As I type this, I’m 38 weeks pregnant and impatiently waiting to meet my baby, so I promise I get it! But, we need to consider the risks of induction:

  • Some research indicates that elective inductions increase your risk of cesarean.
  • If your due date is off, you could be welcoming baby before he/she is ready to be out in the world.
  • Inductions using Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) can cause very intense contractions, making labor harder and longer in many cases.

newborn in hospital blanket

Baby has his/her own plan

You will quickly learn as a mother that almost nothing is fully in your control. That starts early with when they decide to arrive. No matter how accurate your estimated due date is, your baby makes the ultimate decision of his/her birthday. Plenty of babies are born 3 weeks before their due dates. Plenty of babies arrive 3 weeks past their due dates. Either way can be completely healthy. Basically, your baby doesn’t care about the date you put on your calendar!

It all comes down to this: baby will come at exactly the right time. I hope your babe doesn’t make you wait, but just know that if he/she does, there may be a reason. Your due date could be a bit off and baby needs more time to grow. Those last weeks are essential for healthy living in the “outside” world. Don’t underestimate giving him/her a little more time!

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! Either I can do my best to answer your questions or I can point you in the direction of someone who can! If you’d like to see more research on this subject, check out this very thorough article from Evidence Based Birth.

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