Parenting

New Pregnancy Due Date Recommendations Are Good for Every Mom

During pregnancy, the only surprise we really enjoy is finding out if we're having a girl or a boy (and that's only if we don't prefer the delivery room shocker). We're a nervous bunch, moms-to-be ... we want to know what's going on in the womb and we want to know when our due date.

Until now, due dates were determined by information we gave our OB/GYNs during our first visit (date of menstrual period, etc.), but that's about to change. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) has joined with American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine to release new guidelines on how they'll estimate a woman's due date. They're now recommending first trimester ultrasounds.

And that means less surprises -- in a good way! -- for expectant moms.

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Due dates are important not only to answer the question, "When are you due?" but, more significantly, to ensure the best prenatal care. Until now, doctors waited until the second trimester to perform an ultrasound ... and sometimes the results were, shall we say, unexpected. Some moms were told their original due date was way off -- a most unwelcome surprise in the second trimester.

More from The Stir: How Many Ultrasounds Will You Have While Pregnant?

Studies show that up to 40 percent of women would have their due dates changed based on a first trimester ultrasound ... so the new joint recommendation will have a dramatic effect on some moms.

Here's an example: if an ultrasound less than 14 weeks into the pregnancy suggests a due date that differs by more than seven days from the date estimated by a woman's last period, doctors should change the due date based on the new ultrasound guidelines. Before nine weeks of pregnancy, a discrepancy of more than five days is reason enough to change the due date.

The various medical groups also emphasize that a woman's due date should rarely be changed based on an ultrasound in her second or third trimester, and give guidelines for determining due dates for pregnancies that result from assisted reproductive technologies. In those cases, the estimates determined by a woman's fertility team -- for example, the age of the embryo and date of transfer in the case of IVF -- should be used to determine due dates over an ultrasound.

Even with the seismic shift in ultrasound recommendations, doctors say due dates remain an educated guesstimate. Only a small percentage of women -- about 5 percent -- actually deliver on their due date.

What do you think of the new first trimester ultrasound recommendation?


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