Why there should no longer be an estimated ‘due date’

Let’s be honest, we all know ‘estimated due date’ is never accurate. Yet, we continue to sit here naively thinking that by 40 weeks (hopefully sooner, you know….because it could be as early as 37 weeks!) we will have the baby. Why did I think my son would be early? Now I am shooting myself in the foot for not remembering that it could also be up to 42 weeks. But what if he comes after 42 weeks?
pregnancy post

This is where I am now, 41 weeks and 2 days. I didn’t think I would get this far. I feel silly for even thinking he might be earlier than 40 weeks because now I have been waiting for the last 4 weeks thinking, ‘any day now!’ Do you know what this does to you? Thinking ‘any day now!’ for almost a month? Well, let me tell you, it’s absolutely draining and depressing. I have cried every single day. Hard. My partner thinks I may have pre-partum blues. Is this even a thing? I’ve been waiting for this magical moment that is meant to be the happiest day of my life, but every day feels like a month and every hour feels like a day. I prepared everything before 37 weeks:

  1. Finished work and started maternity leave
  2. Completed my papers/assignments for the semester (currently study for my postgraduate degree)
  3. Bought every baby item known to man
  4. Read and practised birthing exercises/breathing
  5. Read every baby book in the world

And now I am just sitting here. Waiting. But I am so ready. I have been ready for what feels like a year now.

But he is not here, he is ‘overdue’ according to the NHS. However, studies have proven that the average first time mother has her baby around 41 weeks. So my question is, why are hospitals around the world still giving ‘estimated due date’ out as an indicator of when your baby will arrive? To save mothers the unnecessary stress, shouldn’t we just give a ‘due month’? ‘Your baby will be due at some point in December.’ I think I would have been able to cope with this a bit better. Adults grow at different rates, so do babies! There isn’t one date that is good for any mother, because we all have a different physiological make-up and therefore, the doctor can never determine an accurate date.

My other concern is that mothers are offered inductions too early. At my appointment yesterday, my midwife said, ‘So, you’re 41 weeks and 1 day, okay we’ll schedule an induction for this weekend.’ Hold up! I didn’t say anything about wanting an induction, I rejected the membrane sweep they offered me yesterday, why would I opt for an induction? I have been very healthy throughout the entire pregnancy, every appointment has been great; right bump size, baby’s heart beat healthy, movements are good, blood pressure is perfect. Why would I want to yank my baby out before he is ready? The World Health Organization’s definition of a ‘prolonged pregnancy’ is one that has continued beyond 42 weeks ie. is post term. So why are they offering me an induction at 41 weeks?

Increasingly, more women are being induced because they have reached their “estimated due date” of 40 weeks. According to the 2013 Listening to Mothers III survey, more than four out of ten mothers (41%) in the U.S. said that their care provider tried to induce labor (Declercq et al. 2014). The researchers asked women to select the reasons why they were induced. “What was the single most common reason for labor induction?” Out of all women who were induced;

  • 44% said that they were induced because their baby was full term and it was “close to the due date.”
  • Another 18% said that they were induced because the health care provider was concerned that the mother was “overdue.”

Almost half were induced because they were close to their due date! But we don’t even know if the due date is the right date. At the very least, doctors should wait until 42 weeks, because apparently there are risks involved with pregnancies over 42 weeks. However, there are no studies supporting these claims:

  1. Your placenta starts to ‘dry up’ – there is no evidence supporting this, and according to the ADC (Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 1997): “There is, in fact, no logical reason for believing that the placenta, which is a fetal organ, should age while the other fetal organs do not”
  2. There is an increased risk for stillbirth – the risk for stillbirth is extremely small, there is a 1 in 1,000 chance your baby will have stillbirth at 41 weeks, a 2 in 1,000 chance for stillbirth at 42 weeks, and a 3 in 1,000 chance for stillbirth at 43 weeks (study found here)

In another review of the literature in the Journal of Perinatal Medicine, “In order to prevent PT (post-term) and associated complications, routine induction before 42 weeks has been proposed. There is no conclusive evidence that this policy improves fetal, maternal and neo- natal outcomes as compared to expectant management.”

If you have been healthy throughout the entire pregnancy, why would you need an induction? I think it is safe to say that if you are still pregnant at 42 weeks, it’s perfectly fine to continue with your pregnancy until your baby is ready to come out. Of course, you can opt for fetal monitoring at this stage, and the doctors will keep a close eye. I have an appointment on Monday with the doctors for an ultrasound and ‘consultation’ on how to move forward. I’m fully going to say, if everything is healthy, that I want to ‘wait and see,’ and they can carry on with fetal monitoring every day.

I think what has been getting me through these extremely long days is knowing that ‘baby will come when he is ready.’ As much as you want the sun to come up, thinking about it all the time isn’t going to change when the sun comes up! I keep telling myself….no one has ever been pregnant forever and I am most likely to have my son in the next couple weeks. Trust your body, it knew how to grow the baby, then you know how to birth the baby too. Unless there are any complications, let it be.

I think the best way to get through the last few weeks is to have a reward system. Every day that you go past the 40 week mark, give yourself something special:

  • Go to a movie
  • Get a pedicure
  • Watch Grey’s Anatomy marathon
  • Bake some sugar cookies! (even if you aren’t good at baking, like me, they tasted really good!)

I’ve been thinking the due date is preparing me for motherhood. Life is going to be unpredictable and I need to learn to be patient. I’m just thinking of this waiting period as good practice. There are so many things I won’t have control over when he finally arrives, so I need to learn to just let it go. Life is about journey, not the destination, right?

 

pregnancy post 42 week
This Mum's Life
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Reflections From Me

56 thoughts on “Why there should no longer be an estimated ‘due date’

  1. ooh no im a lover of dates and if they said sometime in January i would be freaking out for a full 4 weeks! lol At least with a due date i think if it comes early – bonus and if it comes later i can milk it for more time with my feet up waiting for the imminent arrival! (ive had 6 and they have all been early though so im not sure i would have the same view if i had ever gone over! You have my complete sympathy!!) #bigpinklink

  2. Oh love, both of my girls were early so I got the shock of my life and wasn’t ready at all for either, but I feel for you. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be. Nevertheless at 42 weeks, surely you don’t have much longer to wait?!? I wish you the very best of luck xxx

  3. Yes! I totally agree on all levels!! My friend is a big advocate of the ‘due month,’ she was given a date, but said she was going to forget it, and told everyone she was ‘due in October.’ It was such a great idea!! I went 7 days over the first time, and 11 days the second, and each of those days I got more and more frustrated, and more angry that my body clearly couldn’t ‘do the job’ to get the baby out (irrational thinking exacerbated by midwives wanting inductions, and pregnancy hormones.) Another friend made all the midwives cross by flatly refusing induction, and delivering at 43 weeks-but they made her feel very guilty by saying that every day she was increasing her risk of stillbirth (clearly not according to the research!!)
    This is a great post, I hope you are getting in LOADS of greys anatomy (McDreamy…. mmmmmm!!) and this subject is definitely something I’d like to see implemented!! Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

    1. I wrote this post a few months ago now….he came at 42 weeks on the day I had an appointment scheduled to discuss an induction ..I was going to tell them no! But anyway glad he finally came but I will not forget those last few weeks they were torture. We should start a FB campaign or something for DUE MONTH!!! Ha ha

  4. This is a brilliant point. My son came early in rather dramatic fashion, but I’ve never known anyones baby to come close to their ”due date’. You’re spot on! Hope you’re feeling OK. #bigpinklink

  5. Ahhh I feel for you – it’s so tough towards the end and the time dragging must make it much worse. While I agree with a lot of this, I think it would be impossible to get rid of due dates entirely. I am severely diabetic in pregnancy only and, for me, the increase of stillbirth is much greater past 40 weeks. Both my pregnancies were induced at 38 weeks. And someone can develop GD later in pregnancy so due date needs to be relatively clear from start.This is true of lots of other health conditions and estimating when baby is due as accurately as possible is really important for these reasons. Having said that, I really don’t understand the obsession with healthcare professionals wanting to induce otherwise completely healthy pregnancies as soon as the due date passes. Pregnancy varies a lot between women and if everything is going well then it should definitely just be a due month! Congratulations on the birth of your son 🙂 #bigpinklink

    1. Ahh good point, it is important for those reasons. I didn’t think about that! I was just so angry about the countdown. I wrote this post a while ago now and had the baby at exactly 42 weeks! Feeling much better haha (well…besides the lack of sleep and constant breastfeeding)! Anyway maybe they could just tell you a due month unless there is an issue?! Haha wishful thinking!

  6. I hated my so called due date, in the end I went to 42+3. Induction started at 42 weeks and then she took 3 days to come out, and that was a c section. I think a lot of dates could be wrong, which then leads to a wrongly induction, and very often ends in a c section. I had to push my induction back as they wanted to induce at 41+4. I was quite a fraid about placenta failing etc but no one had any right or wrong answers, or risk levels etc….. Claire X #bigpinklink

  7. I completely agree with all of your ideas. My husband and I are actually the only 2 people who know our “due date”, we’ve just told all of our family and friends that it’s around the end of March. We’re hoping that this will prevent endless questions towards the end of the pregnancy and take some of the pressure off if we go over 40 weeks. Congratulations on the birth of your son! #bigpinklink

  8. This is so interesting. I actually asked my friend when we were both pregnant about this as I was wondering what they did 100 years ago when medical inductions weren’t a thing?! Were some people just pregnant for longer?
    I was sure that my baby was going to be really late so I had in my head that the earliest he would arrive would be the due date. I was pleasantly surprised when two days before that, just after getting back from lunch with a friend I felt my first contraction! I think a due month makes a lot more sense, or at least a few weeks. #bigpinklink

    1. Ah that was smart. For my next one (if I have another one!) I’m fully going to say to myself he’s coming at 43 weeks ha ha! So I’ll be happy whenever he comes.

      Also as I was so obsessed with this topic at the time, I read that there are actually a lot of woman that give birth at 42 and even 43 weeks and they are completely fine…

  9. I know exactly what you mean! With my second child I went a few days earlier so with my third I assumed I would go early. Plus, my scan date was a week before my due date according to my dates – so I thought I’d have baby weeks before I actually did & man those few weeks really dragged out. I too stopped wanting to answer the phone or texts! I hope baby comes soon of his/her own accord! #candidcuddles

    1. Oh man that must’ve been really frustrating especially as it’s your third you’d think they’d come sooner! This is actually an old post that I linked up…he’s 11 weeks old now! He came at 42 weeks exactly ha ha lucky because I had an appointment to talk about the induction that day. : )

  10. Great article! Thanks for sharing. I was induced when I was 10 days overdue. I honestly didn’t even consider not being induced. I just did what my doc told me too… but now that I know a tiny bit more than before I would definitely try and hold out as long as was safe for me and bub.

    Next time – if there is a next time I am also not telling anyone my due date. Or I am going to add a month. I find it rather funny people think you might not actually tell them when but arrives!

  11. I totally agree with this post. A due month would be so much better. I like your idea of rewarding yourself everyday you get another day past due date! I would totally be indulging in that. I wasn’t allowed to go too far overdue so I had to endure the sweeps 4 times! Then little babba arrived the day after my due date. Who knows if the sweeps did anything but I would have rather been left alone to just bump along as I believe baby will come when they are ready and not before 🙂 #fabfridaypost

    1. Damn 4 sweeps! Yea you can never really tell what actually starts labour..I almost did a acupuncture session but went into labour the day it was booked, but if I did have that session I would’ve thought the acupuncture started it!!

  12. So frustrating waiting for baby! I was induced 2 weeks ago with my son but actually it turned out to be a really quick & straightforward labour so not as bad as some would have you believe! #fabfridaypost

    1. Ah this is an old post, he ended up coming at 42 weeks and 1 day! : ) …with induction half way through, oh well! At least he finally came, I was starting to believe that he was never going to come!

  13. Interesting research and I know what you mean. My boy was 3 days early and my girl was 3 days late. Due date are so overrated. I feel for you. Look after yourself and bump. x Thank you for sharing with us on #FabFridayPost

  14. Really interesting and well researched post! Totally agree…a birth window of say 6 weeks would make much more sense than an actual imaginary due date. And agreed on treating yourself over the last month with lots of trips to the cinema or Netflix binges! #FabFridayPost

  15. The last few weeks are the worst! You just want them to be here so you can meet them and the parenting adventure can begin. Good luck and I hope baby arrives soon 🙂

  16. I went 8 days over due with my first. My midwife booked me in to be induced at 4 2weeks and the day after she made the appointment I went in to labour, there was no way I was being induced. Bow pregnant with baby number 2 and I.m ignoring my due date, I’m just saying baby die october/November time. Really well research d post btw xx #mg

  17. With my first born I was a week over due when I started having contractions. I actually started having contractions an hour after I left the doctor’s office. We had an ultra sound and they said every thing was good. He was a big baby too but they wanted me to wait another week before considering an induction. However, they ended up inducing me anyway because my contractions were steady but I wasn’t dialating. He was born at 9lbs, 12 oz so I am not sure that waiting an extra week or two would have been a good idea for me but I can also understand your point. Every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. If you feel strongly about this, then I say go ahead and wait. Popping over from #mg

  18. I was induced with 2 of my pregnancies, I regret it, in saying that they are 2 healthy girls so I am blessed, but I wish I wasn’t talked into induction. Good on you for rewarding yourself, great idea!!! Much love honey #mg

    1. I had to be induced half way through the labour (it started on its own on the day I was supposed to talk to a doctor about being induced – 42 weeks exactly)! The birth was not what I had planned but he is a healthy happy boy now!!

  19. Due dates are so vague anyway so it’s never the latest accurate! My last 2 were born at 25 weeks and 34 weeks so a due date was always a long way off! #mg

  20. I had 3 c-sections so I cannot relate to being overdue but I’m sure you are probably about out of your mind! Especially if this is your first. I was so excited with my first it was ridiculous. I hope by the time I’ve read this post he has come. #mg

    1. Yep he’s already here (linked an old post)! He arrived at exactly 42 weeks! The day I had my appointment with the doctor to discuss induction. Only problem is that while it started on its own, I had to be induced half way through as I was progressing too slowly…. wah wah waaaahhh. Oh well it’s all over now and he’s 4 months, healthy and smiling!

  21. This was so interesting! For me, I was super fearful of my due date as my babies were all high risk following Josephs stillbirth. I was induced in the end at 35 weeks with the youngest three and by that point I just wanted them out safely, with obvious reason. I do think that they are inducing people far too quickly at the moment though, my local hospital is basically inducing anyone who goes in with a concern or worry which is now causing women who are fed up with being pregnant to invent concerns just for an early induction. Madness!! On the other hand, a friend just had her baby last week at 42 weeks and had a horrific time of it and her and the baby almost died, and in that way I wonder why they hadn’t induced her earlier. It all depends on the individual I suppose. I hope your little one comes soon! #stayclassymama

  22. Bless you, this is a really informative post and I hope you get your arrival soon. I was the other way, both of my girls were early but with my second I stupidly tried to “bring it on” as I was so fed up. She came 15 days before my due date and I had hardly any break between finishing work and having her, I was knackered before I’d even started! #stayclassymama

  23. I completely agree. NG was 8 days early, NC 4 days late so not too much difference between the EDD and arrival but nevertheless I was so p***ed off that neither arrived ‘on time’! So stupid…! Anyway, probably a good first step in learning that when you have children being in control goes out of the window 🙂 Glad he is healthy and thriving. That’s all that really matters. #stayclassymama

  24. Ooo I can feel your pain. 40 weeks is a long time so every extra day is a killer. I admire your patience though, I wanted (also medically needed) mine to evacuate ASAP! #StayClassyMama

  25. aw love, 4 weeks of “today could be the day” isn’t fun at all. no wonder you are at your wits end! greys anatomy marathon sounds perfect tho! id add go out and have a meal on to that list too – I miss eating out in peace! #stayclassy

  26. Yes a ‘due timeframe’ might be good rather than a due day. I remember wanting to avoid induction at all costs. My son was 6 days ‘late’ but by then I had done the hot curry (just nice and not very effectual) the whole pineapple (not sure -could have been a catalyst but gave me a sore mouth!) and lots of walking about which seemed to do the trick. Another great post x #stayclassymama

  27. Ah I love the photo of you with your beautiful bump! I so agree with everything you’ve said. When people ask my due date I say mid-September….I try to forget the dates I’ve been given (because there’s always more than one date as well isn’t there…scan and date date). Only one person so far has really drilled into exactly the date I’ve been given. Yes you have to let go with a baby…horticultural time not industrial time! Anyway, I also find the process of induction really interesting for babies. The time limit for considering induction in babies over 40 weeks varies across the country between NHS Trusts which seems bizarre. Lovely post and lovely to read one an old one from you #stayclassymama

  28. Great article. I have three children and was induced all three times for various reasons. Looking back, only one of those instances was probably a good reason, although admittedly I am not a doctor.
    #StayClassyMama

  29. Great post Meagan! I love this. It’s really refreshing to see a very valid and justified rant with some good ole academic fact-finding to back it up.
    Really glad you decided to re-share this one. Amy x

  30. This highlights a very good point. My sister went very overdue with her first and she was crying every day. I have never seen her so down. It was awful, as every day felt like an eternity and as you say, you prepare weeks before and you always have friends whose babies came at 38/39 weeks and you hang on to that hope…every day. It’s exhausting. I’m glad he came out in the end 🙂 Alison x #StayClassyMama

    1. Yes. So so so happy he finally came out, even though it was three days long. I really struggled those last few weeks, I was cryin every day like your sister. I think a comboniation of hormones and sick of being pregnant that makes it so hard. Thanks for your comment!

  31. I’m all for a due month – it makes much more sense. That being said, the Popple was born at 40 weeks + 2 days, so her due date was pretty accurate. Even going 2 days past the due date was driving me nuts, though. I was SO done with being pregnant. I was uncomfortable, hot (it was June) and generally ready to get that baby out. I had Nando’s the night before she was born with lots of hot sauce, and I swear it’s the sauce that kickstarted labour for me. GO NANDOS. #stayclassymama

  32. I have enjoyed this post again haha ( I commented on it way back when!!), and I will definitely be giving myself a due ‘week’ or few weeks if/when I have another! #stayclassymama

  33. Ha. I had one come late and one come early. I was still at work and in denial with the earlybird. People were trying to send me home and I was all ‘oh no, got plenty of time…still another week to go’ even though the contractions were coming pretty fast. hee hee. That’s the difference between 1 and 2…You need a due date so you can let your work know when not to expect you 😉

  34. Oh lovely not long left. Great post though and so true – both my girls births were very close to their due dates but i never liked the idea of an induction or a sweep. Although being 18 weeks pregnant I may change my mind about this come December!! Good luck #stayclassymama

  35. It’s so hard at the end. Although I only made it to 35 with 1 and 38 with the other so I don’t know what overdue feels like. I don’t like the idea of induction unless there are medical concerns but then I’ve never been in that situation. But we as a society shouldn’t focus so much on due date!!
    Thanks for hosting. #stayclassymama

  36. I was so conviced both of mine would come at 37 weeks – both got dragged out eventually! Babies come when they are ready and not a moment earlier (without intervention) #stayclassy

  37. I think you’re so right. They should definitely not offer inductions too early and so readily. The problem is, for impatient people like me, who HATED being pregnant…it’s often seen as a huge relief to get it over with. When i say i hated pregnancy…i feel awful thinking that but i was sick as a dog from day one til the day i had my first, but also I had to be induced 2 weeks early because i had cholestasis which can result in stillbirth if left to go full term. But my boy was so not ready to come out. It was a harrowing week of hospitalization, painful induction drugs, my waters artificially being broken, a drip to start full on contractions (like 0 to 100 in half an hour) and 18 hours of labour for a bubba who just wasn’t ready. Resulting in emergency room, forceps and a bub who didn’t breathe for 7 minutes. I was terrified of that happening again but i naturally went early with my second and she was born naturally and happy. But sheeez…i think it’s sooo wrong to drag them out when they don’t want to come. Apparently i was 3 weeks late! Sorry for the essay. Love this post! #Stayclassymama

  38. My first was born ON his edd. I was induced the day before due to high blood pressure. I wish I would have fought to just be monitored for a few days, because I labored for almost 20 hours. He was obviously. My second was born 5 days after he edd. I was induced because I asked to be. I was having contractions for almost 2 1/2 months that were mostly just uncomfortable, but it wasn’t changing my cervix. When I went in to be induced I had dilated from a 2 to a 6 over night (I was checked the day before by my doctor.) I was given a very small amount of pitocin and she was out a little more than 3 hours later. I have to agree that the edd is bull. You just never know!!

  39. Aw I always feel a teeny bit guilty that I never got overdue as Emma was breech so they choppered her outta me but really feel for you reading this! I can only imagine that Bear was just super comfy 🙂 Thanks for hosting #stayclassymama lovely xxx

  40. I absolutely think there should be a reward system!!! this should be law!!! Having said that I was 10 days early with my first – he was a c-section though, and only 3 days over with my second…still felt like a life time though! xx

    #stayclassymama

  41. Ah bless! Great idea about the daily rewards, I like that a lot! Never made it to either of my due dates, twins came at 37 weeks and Bubs at 39. All had to be c-sections though so a little different. Now you have the most gorgeous little baby boy though! So fab! #stayclassymama

  42. Meanwhile my first was taken out at 37 weeks because they were worried as she was too small and they feared she wasn’t thriving. 3 babies, 3 scheduled c-sections so I’ve no idea what is to carry a baby to term. I must admit, the 1 in 1000 to 3 in 1000 chance of stillbirth is far too much for me! Anway, bubba got here in the end. Love that pic of you and the Christmas tree! #stayclassymama

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