When are you due? A pregnant woman typically hears this question in almost every conversation when meeting a new person or talking with a stranger. The due date. The date the careprovider focuses on, your family anxiously awaits and the date you count down to in excitement.
What is a due date? Let’s be honest, it’s a guess. It’s a guess based on the best science we have on how long a human gestational length is for the median of women. Is it an exact science, nope. Is it an exact date, absolutely not. Is it the worst most depressing day when it passes and you are still staring down at your swollen feet over the hump of your overly active baby, most likely.
As doulas, we hear many first time moms who are convinced they are going early. How can I possibly get much bigger? Why wouldn’t I go into labor at 37 weeks, baby is mature then, right? Let’s clear up some myths and then help you avoid the inevitable feeling of, “AAAAAHHH” which happens when the text messages ring in every hour on the hour when you are 40 weeks and 2 days — and still pregnant.
The median length of gestation is 40 weeks. Median. Average. There are many women on both sides of that median, who are perfectly normal and their babies are perfectly safe and comfy inside still. In certain countries, they have now changed the average gestational period and due dates to 41 weeks. Are their babies growing differently or more slowly? No. The care providers are realizing 40 weeks is a guess and 41 weeks may be a better guess.
Doctors guess your due date. It’s an educated guess, but its a guess. You due date is based off of the perfect woman’s 28 day cycle schedule where one ovulates on day 14 and gets pregnant on that day. In reality, this is far from the average scenario that plays out. Many women can attest to having average cycles of 30 days or more and many many women can attest to those swimmers lasting for a few days before finding paydirt in a ready egg to fertilize.
When you are given the due date and the sonogram and the dates don’t match, women tend to choose the earlier date. Choosing the earlier date does not mean your baby will choose it too! Choosing the later date will allow you and your care provider the leeway that you may need in case your baby was actually conceived on the later date. Many unnecessary inductions have been carried out because the due date was up to a week off because women choose the earlier 28 day, perfect scenario date and their care providers don’t seem to feel the need to explain the consequences.
First time moms love to share their due dates with everyone. Why not? They are going to deliver early at 37 weeks, right? So, when the actual average pregnancy length of 40 weeks and 4 days hit, they have been answering the question, “Still Pregnant?” one million times which can be emotionally disturbing and downright depressing. Veteran moms tend to lie a bit about the due date or give the impression that the date could be anytime around the date since practice makes perfect and dealing with the calls once is enough in a lifetime.
Subsequent pregnancies do not mean going “early”. They do mean your body has been in labor before and you do often get a break in certain parts of labor which are more difficult or longer in first births – but the timeline can often be exactly the same. Don’t bank on going two weeks early the second time either, it may be the same or more than your first in gestational length. Bigger uterus because of a previous pregnancy can sometimes mean more space for a baby to get super comfy.
Bottom line: Due Months are your friends!
When are you due? March. Just March. Not March 2nd, not March 14th, just March.
The other method, April..and surprise them with an “early” baby,