Due Dates

Due dates.
Many a conversation has been had about this and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we knew exactly when we would go into labour?  Would it take away the uncertainty, the unnecessary conversations around induction, the constant pestering from family, friends and colleagues of “is the baby here yet?”  In previous generations we knew that we could be having a spring baby or a summer baby again nothing to set in stone.
From the moment we are given that due date everything becomes focused on that and any conversations are centred about what happens before or after that date.
We should always remember that our baby is full term at 42 weeks according to the WHO guidelines and therefore anything that may be considered should be discussed and may be chosen after this point.

When you go for your booking in appointment with the midwife she will calculate your due date according to something called Nagele’s Rule. Nagele was a chap who in 1812 came up with a concept based on the work of a professor from the Netherlands, Herman Boerhaave which said that the due date can be figured out by adding 7 days to the last period and then adding 9 months which is roughly 280 days (Decker R. 2019). However neither Professor made it clear whether their intention was to add 7 days to the first day of the last menstrual period or the last day. In the 1900s it was written into text first day which is why that method, despite being based on no evidence whatsoever (and perhaps not even what Naegele intended) is what is used today. The problems don’t stop there. The rule, as it stands, is based on every woman having a 28 day cycle and ovulating and conceiving on day 14 – which rules out about half the menstruating population.

Some studies have shown that, in reality, it is far more accurate for a woman to give birth on or around 40 weeks of pregnancy plus 5 days. Around 50% of women will have given birth by this stage and the other 50% will not. A pretty accurate predictor as to whether you can expect a longer pregnancy is to look at your mother and/or sister. If they had pregnancies going beyond 42 weeks, there is a pretty good chance you will too.
Remember though, just because a pregnancy might last 44 weeks or so on paper, that is counting from the first day of the last period – with women who have longer cycles, irregular cycles or ovulate towards the end of their cycle, the actual length of pregnancy is likely to be between 40 and 42 weeks (Decker R, 2019.)

Things you can do to help with your mindset over this time is, if it’s not too late, give people a due month when they ask you to try and cut down on the amount of people who are likely to bug you as you wait (patiently!) for your baby’s arrival.
The other thing is to fill your diary for at least the two weeks past the date you have been given – if you’re anything like the majority of my clients, you’ll have the due date highlighted in your diary and a blank schedule for the following two weeks due to the fact your baby will have arrived. In that time, if you can, treat yourself by doing the things you love to do.

If you have a partner, schedule in some special time with them as it is unlikely you’ll be able to do things a deux for a little while after. Spend some quality time with friends or family, go to the cinema, rest and watch old movies. I know it sounds clichéd but you’ll never get the opportunity to repeat this time if this is your first baby, or spend time alone with your existing child if this is a subsequent pregnancy. Take advantage of it.

Remember, your baby is not a piece of fruit that needs to be plucked from a tree – when it is ripe enough, it will fall on its own.