Your Due Date Is Wrong


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

3rd trimester, c-sections, complications, delivery, labor & delivery, labor, tests & procedures


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ethan... ethans_momma06

I think that this is fantastic news. So many women put way to much stock in the whole 'due date' thing to begin with, but then you add in the fact that it may not even be the correct date, and you are just looking for disaster.


Samantha Van Vleet Lsp

A due date is simply an estimate.

One thing I hate, is when women claim the baby NEEDS to come out since it's dangerous to be overdue...when the chance of stillbirth is actually HIGHER at 38 weeks than at 42!

I wrote an article about induction and being overdue. You should check it out!

Jmum Jmum

I hate hearing about people being induced just because they're tired of waiting or they're miserable. I'm so glad the March of Dimes is working on this problem. But the problem isn't always the women, it's often the doctors. My OB wanted to induce me at 39 weeks but I made her wait 17 more days!

chicl... chiclet731

I delivered my last child at exaclty 42 weeks. I went into labor all on my own. My wonderful midwives weren't the least bit concerned...  I *know* for sure the dates too. As my husband was living out of town (for work) and was home only a certain day, I was charting my temps and voi la!

white... whiteroses82

I think a lot of blame lies with doctors here. I chose an elective induction at 40 weeks and 5 days. Here's the kicker - I didn't realize that's what it was until I saw it in my chart. My doc kept going on about how big she was (7.5 punds, for the record), the risks of being overdue and placenta death, that I was scared NOT to induce. It frustrates me that I have to go fact checking info from my doctor! I had my second on her timetable, 5 days "late". I'm "due" tomorrow with this one based on when I think I ovulated, which was early, the 28th based on lmp, and the 22 based on ultrasound. I'l be shocked if I deliver on any of those dates, but people are already freaking out that I'm going past my due date. I do think tomorrow is the most accurate, but... who cares? He'll come out when he's ready.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

Really, more women need to know this going IN to the pregnancy... all of us who have been there know that you are miserable, emotional and exhausted. Really I think that makes us more susceptible to taking advice we wouldn't otherwise take.

The doctors really need to be on our side...

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

The ONLY reason I was concerned about my due date was because if I hit 42 weeks, my midwives could not (by law) attend my out of hospital birth.  I wasn't worried about needing him out, the "dangers" (ha!) of going past my due date, being uncomfortable, etc.  I knew that I'd go into labor when my son had matured enough.  Why would I want to force him out before then, ya know? 

I had to keep reminding people (not my midwives, just annoying family and friends) that normal human gestation is anywhere from 38-42 weeks.  You aren't REALLY overdue until after the 42 week mark and even that can be normal for some women.  In the end, my son was born when he was ready at 41 weeks and 1 day. :)

nonmember avatar Allboys

I think they need to look into if induction before dilation and effacement leads to c section. I was induced three times. All three labors were precipitous labors but I was both dilated and effaced weeks before my inductions. This is good sound advice though. Babies need to gestate. I do think women need to be listened to more. If mom really thinks there is a problem or her pregnancy simply isn't tolerable any longer due to complications like vomiting in her sleep due to excess stomach acid she should be listened to. The consequences are hers to deal with. We do however need to be more honest about who is truly pushing all the inductions.

RanaA... RanaAurora

I definitely agree the problem is mostly the doctors, and the efforts of the March of Dimes has certainly shown that to be true!

Addys... Addys_Mom

I dont know all the facts and the stats on other moms that had voluntary inductions, but for my second i had an induction at 39 weeks because I was so miserable. I couldn't walk without pain, I was constantly having contractions that weren't moving my labor along. I was at 50% effaced and 3 dilated for weeks before my due date. I was miserable. The dr. asked me if i wanted to be induced at my checkup and I practically cried with joy. It wasn't because I was just tired of being pregnant, I just couldn't handle it anymore. And my second was born healthier than my first who i had naturally the day after my due date. So i think this article is a little one sided. Im sure it happens a lot where women try to be induced far too early, but there are times when it is needed.

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