We’re thrilled to have Deb Flashenberg join us again on the Mother’s Advocate blog! This week, she explores the due date debacle, and shares the importance of letting your baby come into the world when it’s right (and you’re both ready)!
Ah … the infamous question: “When are you due?” Of course you know this date — it is circled, highlighted and has little stars drawn around it on your calendar. You know it so well, in fact, that it’s easy to get very attached to this date. However, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), only 5 percent of babies arrive on their exact due date. Full term gestation is seen as 37-42 weeks — so it’s more like a due month than a due date.
There are a few different ways to determine a due date. One way is by ultrasound, and another is by measuring the uterus. The third (and commonly used) method is called the Naegele’s rule, in which the due date is calculated by taking the first day of a woman’s last period, counting back three months, and then adding seven days. This calculation is assuming that every woman regularly has a 28-day cycle and ovulates on day 14. If the pregnant woman has a longer cycle, therefore ovulating later, she will likely have a longer gestation period and her given due date may be off. A study done through the department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health concluded that when estimating a due date for private-care white patients, one should count back three months from the first day of the last menses, then add 15 days for primiparas (a first time mother) or 10 days for multiparas (a mother who has already given birth), instead of using the common algorithm for Naegele’s rule.
Given the wide range of interpretation and accuracy of determining the due date, it’s important to discuss with your health practitioner what his or her protocol is for passing the due date. Throughout my years working with the pregnant population, I have encountered some care providers that allow up to the full gestation period of 42 weeks before induction, while other care providers induce 10 days, one week or one day after the due date.
If the mother passes her due date of 40 weeks and would like more time before a conversation ensues about induction, she can ask her doctor if she should try natural alternatives to induce labor.
It is rather uncommon to actually pass 42 weeks of gestation. In fact, only 7 percent of babies are not delivered by 42 weeks. Pregnancies bypassing the 42-week marker are referred to as “post-term pregnancy.” Note: “post-term pregnancy” is NOT defined as simply passing the due by a few days, but passing it by a significant amount of time. For mothers who do pass the 42-week mark, the care provider will likely want to induce labor to avoid serious complications that can arise with post-term pregnancies.
Debra Flashenberg CD (DONA), LCCE is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music. She spent most of her life performing, and was introduced to yoga through a choreographer in 1997. Soon after embarking on the path as a yoga teacher, she founded the Prenatal Yoga Center in New York City, where she continues to instruct prenatal yoga and train prenatal yoga teachers. Debra decided to also take her skills and passion for supporting normal birth outside of the yoga room, so she became a certified labor support doula with DONA and a certified childbirth educator with Lamaze International. For more information, please visit the Prenatal Yoga Center online.
Did you go into labor early? Late? Did you contemplate being induced? We would love to hear your experiences about the age-old question: “When are you due?”