Pregnancy and Parenting Features

Is Your Due Date Accurate?

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First of all, you have to remember that, at the end of the day, a due date really is just an educated guess.  Your baby is going to come whenever he or she is ready to come, and not any sooner or any later.  In fact, most women do not actually have their baby on their due date.  In addition, while we speak of pregnancy being 40 weeks, the fact of the matter is that a healthy pregnancy will last anywhere from 37 weeks to 42 weeks in length.  Some babies are born before the due date, and others are born after the due date.

How is the due date calculated?

We calculate your due date by examining the date that your last menstrual period began.  On the average, your pregnancy will last 280 days from the time that your last menstrual period began until the day that you deliver your baby.  If your menstrual cycle is typically longer than 28 days, you are likely to deliver a few days after your due date.  If your cycle is typically shorter than 28 days, then it is more likely that you would deliver in the days prior to your due date.

What methods do physicians use?

In addition to this sort of calculation, your health care provider might use other means to try to predict a more accurate due date.  Using an ultrasound, your health care provider will take a measurement of various parts of your baby’s growth and development.  The size of your baby during these ultrasounds, as well as the growth that your baby makes between ultrasounds, might prompt your health care provider to alter your due date, if the measurements don’t match up very well with the date calculated using the date of your last menstrual period.

What does it mean when you’re overdue?

Once you hit 40 weeks of pregnancy and become “overdue,” your health care provider will probably suggest some stress testing in order to make sure that your baby is still doing all right.  If pregnancy goes much past your due date, your health care provider may suggest that you should have labor induced.  On the other hand, if you were to go into labor before the 37th week of pregnancy, it is likely that your health care provider would like to be able to stop labor, and postpone it long enough for your baby to do some more developing.


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