The mine-field of the Due Date

Due date: estimate of when a baby will probably not arrive.

Due dates. Family, friends and strangers alike will all be asking during your pregnancy: ‘what’s your due date?’ But did you know that only about 4% of babies are born on their due date? Some babies come a little earlier, some come a little later, but they all eventually come out!

Did you know that a 19th century ‘rule’ is used to estimate your due date?

It’s called Naegele’s rule: Take the first day of an expectant person’s last menstrual period, add a year, subtract three months, and add seven days. Crazy huh? But there is one massive assumption made when using this rule; that the birthing person has a 28-day menstrual cycle, with ovulation on day 14. But in reality, cycles range anywhere between 21 and 35 days. Add on top of this that babies don’t know about months and days, and ultimately, it’s a very inaccurate way of estimating when a baby will arrive.

On a related note, do you know the difference between pre-term, term and post-term gestational ages?

Pre-term: Born on or before 36+6 weeks
Term: Born anytime from 37+0 weeks to 41+6 (that’s a 5 week swing!)
Post term: Born after 42+0 weeks

But, due to the inaccuracy of the due date estimation, you can have a baby born at 37 weeks who looks skinny and premature, and another baby born at 36 weeks could looks fat, healthy and full term.

When it comes to inductions, if you do not have a medical reason to be induced, it’s best for your baby’s development that you wait for labour to being spontaneously until you are 42+0 weeks (and even then, you can choose to decline). If your care provider is pushing to induce you earlier without a medical indication, ask the BRAIN questions, ask for a second opinion, and be confident enough in your body to say ‘no’ if needed. You can say no to any procedure or intervention offered to you at any time if it doesn’t feel right for you. It’s called informed consent/refusal. 

If you’d like to know more about your rights as a birthing person, understand more about where the pros and cons start with and end with any labour option, and so much more, consider doing a Lamaze Childbirth Education class. I hold mine privately with each couple/family, at a time and location that suits. Contact me to find out more.

Rachel Angelone is the founder of Your Birth Your Baby and is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Postpartum Doula and NurtureLife Pregnancy Massage Practitioner based in Melbourne. Rachel offers independent childbirth and early parenting education to pregnant families before baby arrives. Once your baby is Earth-side, she offers practical and emotional in-home support as you adjust to your new life as parents. Along both journeys she can provide relaxing and restorative massage treatments. She is also a loving wife and mother to two young girls.

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