The current way we measure "due dates" is inaccurate at best. Unless you know the day you ovulate and the day you conceive, as well as the length of your cycle, and calculate it yourself, chances are your due date is wrong -- in fact, it can be WAY wrong. Most are off by an average of two weeks.
I think most moms know of the March of Dimes -- they're a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of premature and still births, as well as the leading research in care of premature babies. Right now, they're working with 40 North Carolina hospitals to prevent premature birth by preventing unneeded inductions -- and their message?
Pregnancy is uncomfortable and at times, downright miserable, but you need to stick it out, and your doctor needs to refuse your induction unless it's medically necessary.
I know, I know ... how rude of them to tell women what to do with their bodies.
Well, except for the fact that their goal is to make sure that your baby is as healthy as possible, and if that means you have to be pregnant for two to three more weeks, then they're telling you -- and your doctor -- that that's what you need to do.
With our incorrect way of looking at due dates, that means if you choose to induce without medical reasons at "38 weeks," your baby could be 36 weeks gestation -- and therefore be preterm and even require time in the NICU.
The assumption is that you have a 28-day cycle, ovulate on day 14, and bleed for 5 days. Not everyone does. Call this TMI if you will, but my cycle is 33 days and I ovulate on day 18 -- so when my doctor insisted my daughter's due date was July 5, I kept reminding them I was not a cookie-cutter human -- my due date was actually July 10. She was 38 weeks, 3 days when she was born, though they still called it 39 weeks on the dot.
Every time they mentioned the due date they had written down, I corrected them. Why? Because while it ended up not mattering, what if I'd hit 41 or 42 weeks by their calculations, when they were wrong? They'd have pushed induction, despite the fact that proper calculation shows that they were assuming she was almost a week ahead of her true gestational age.
But I digress ... the March of Dimes points out that a 35 weeker's brain only weighs two-thirds of a 39-40 weeker. That 4-5 extra weeks makes a huge difference. Babies born even just two weeks early have higher rates of breathing problems, jaundice, feeding problems, temperature regulation issues, and delayed brain development.
That's a lot to risk to not be pregnant for just two more weeks, isn't it?
Not to mention induction before 39 weeks substantially increases the risk of c-section, which has dangers to the mother and child all its own, so it's not just your baby who can seriously suffer from an unneeded induction and premature birth.
The March of Dime's efforts with these hospitals has shown a drastic reduction in premature births and c-sections ... as in 44 percent less premature or preterm births from elective, unnecessary inductions. That's pretty huge!
I hope that their success in North Carolina continues and sets an example and standard for hospitals across the country, so we can eliminate elective inductions. After all, every mom wants her baby to be as healthy as possible from the get-go, and after 37-38 weeks of being pregnant, and decades of life ahead for you and your child, a couple more weeks really is absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, but can cause a lifetime of differences.
Are you concerned about your "due date"? What do you think of this news from the March of Dimes?
Image via notorious d.a.v./Flickr