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  • Writer's pictureRosemary Scott

Is your baby in the 4%?

Only 4% of women will give birth on their due date.

  • Put your hand up in the comments below if your baby was born on their due date?

  • Put your hand up if the due date you calculated is different to the one the midwife gave you?

My baby girl was not in the 4%. In fact she was a week early!

Most of the women I teach have a different date in mind to the one they’re given and most will go on to birth their babies on an even different date to either. I’ve even heard of women who’ve conceived through IVF have their carefully calculated dates overruled! So what’s this all about?

An expectant woman will be considered ‘full term’ at 40 weeks gestation. Most babies are born somewhere between 37 and 41 weeks and just under one in five are born at 41 weeks or later.

So how is a due date calculated in the first place?

Your due date is set as 40 weeks after the first day of your last period. The thing is the calculator assumes your menstrual cycle is like clock work every 28 days and for many women this just isn’t the case.

- The NHS has this handy due date calculator you can access online!

This is why your due date may then be adjusted after a dating scan which is your first ultrasound usually around 10-12 weeks pregnant. The measurements of your baby are used to predict their due date.

Does it matter if I go ‘over due’?

If your pregnancy lasts longer than 42 weeks (294 days), it’s called a prolonged pregnancy. Between 5% and 10% of women have a pregnancy that naturally lasts this long. Your hospital is likely to have a policy of offering to induce your labour after your due date has passed. If all is well and you’re happy to wait until your baby is ready then you are of course completely entitled to decline this. If you reach 42 weeks and your baby hasn’t arrived you will be offered more monitoring.

Should I pay much attention to my due date then?

What I like to remind women in my classes is that every body and every baby is different and environmental factors and physiological factors can influence when your baby will arrive. When you’re asked ‘when are you due?’ I think it’s best to be a little vague, like ‘mid June’ for example. For one, it’s very private and you may not want anyone to know and two you don’t want others to be counting down as that’s incredibly annoying!!

- Have a read of this NHS web page all about what happens after you go overdue

In traditional Japanese culture women would be given a ‘due month’ which I think is an excellent approach! Women will also spend an average of 6 days recovering in hospital which is also very wise!

I’d recommend you use your due date as a guide. Have the essentials ready, make sure you feel prepared and relaxed well ahead of time. Ask when your hospital would consider you ‘overdue’ and find out what their policies are should you decline induction. Induced labour is not the same as spontaneous labour so it warrants careful consideration.

Then just try not to clock watch and tune into how your body is feeling. Stay active if you feel able to and rest when you can. That way you’ll be in a great position to make choices based on what feels right for you.

Being able to make informed choices is the key to positive birth!

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