Everywhere you look in our society, whether it be on social media sites among our circles of friends or celebrities in the tabloids, women (and men for that matter) appear to be under some sort of screwed up notion that your due date is this magical day on the calendar when poof! your baby is ready to be born. What they apparently fail to realize is that in fact this isn’t the case at all!
M was born a week late. I was teaching at the time and therefore only had 12 weeks of maternity leave to be at home with her. Consequently I worked up until the day that she was born. This meant 2 weeks (because people started asking/commenting a week BEFORE my due date..SERIOUSLY!?) of getting comments like: “What? Here again?” “No baby yet?” “How are you feeling, any signs yet?” “When are you going to get induced/how far past your due date will they let you go?” or my favorite, “You’re still here/still no baby?!”… YES I’M HERE, IF I WASN’T YOU WOULDN’T BE TALKING TO ME RIGHT NOW AND DO I STILL LOOK PREGNANT TO YOU, THAT MEANS NO, NO BABY!! I hated it! I mean I know that all of my coworkers at the time meant well, but it was seriously so annoying. Just because I was nearing my “due date” didn’t mean that the baby would be born by that day!
So let’s set the story straight, due dates are simply an estimate. In fact, most research states that a due date is typically within a 2-4 week window of when the baby will actually be ready to be born. According to the American Pregnancy Association, only 5% of babies are born on their actual due dates. However, 80% of babies are born between weeks 37-42. Due dates are typically determined based on the 1st day of the mama’s last menstrual cycle. Providers assume that she has a typical 28 day cycle and ovulates half-way through on approximately day 14. The problem with this method of determining one’s due date is that not all women are the same. For me, for example, my due date with M was August 31st. However, I got pregnant using an ovulation kit and therefore knew the exact date of conception (which was on day 21 by the way…). When I calculated my due date on my own using the date of conception, I came up with September 4th… not so far off from her September 6th birthday. Given this and the fact that she was born supposedly a week late weighing just a little over 7 lbs, I’m incline to believe the estimate of my due date was just a little off.
My mom has a similar story with me. I was due August 1st and was born August 17th (over 2 weeks late supposedly) and yet I only weighed slightly over 7 lbs as well. Kinda small for a baby 2 weeks late, huh?! Then again since due dates are only an estimate made based on a generic formula that’s supposed to fit all women, maybe I wasn’t actually late after all!
Some people think that their ultrasounds have all the answers and can give them a more accurate due date. Well I’m sorry to break it to you, but that thinking is wrong as well! Prior to 18-20 weeks of pregnancy, ultrasounds have a margin of error of roughly a week and a half of predicting accurate due dates. Between 18-28 weeks, this margin of error jumps to slightly over 2 weeks and by 28 weeks of pregnancy, ultrasound due dates can be off by over 3 weeks!!! Apparently ultrasounds only give you an estimate as well! Are you noticing a trend here… let me spell it out for you, your due date is a ESTIMATE! (Let’s face it, there’s only 1 person who really knows when your baby is going to be born and it would do you good to remember it should be all on His time!)
So, why do I get so fired up about people’s over-reaction to their impending and heaven forbid passing of their due dates?! First off because I was one of those women. The one who had her baby past her due date and therefore had to be subject to all the annoying, unending questions. And second (and more importantly) because of the number of women having elective inductions based on an “overdue” baby. What happens when that 40+ week baby is actually only 38 or even 37 weeks along and isn’t ready to be born yet….. ahhh… now we’re getting somewhere. But, that’s a post for another day… stay tuned! 😉