Forget Your Due Date
One of the first pieces of information you receive when you find out that you are pregnant is the due date. I will tell you why you should forget it instead of telling your family and friends.
The due date is established to be after 40 weeks from the first day of the last period or 38 weeks after conception (if the woman knows the date). The most common natural term to give birth is between the completion of the 37th and 42nd weeks. This gives a woman a 5 weeks' window during which she would be expected to give birth.
However, it is rare that she is allowed this period without external pressure. The risks of being overdue are highlighted much more than the risks of induction or planned Caesarean. Woman's individual circumstances should be taken into consideration before enumeration of the potential perils.
The birth statistics show that only 4-5% of all babies are born on their due date. Which means that they don't really care about our calendar. They are ready when they are ready.
Imagine an apple tree. Have you ever seen one with apples getting ripe on the same day? No? Exactly.
Every baby needs it's time to be ready. Huge developing spurt is taking place just before the baby is born, including weight gain and brain development. And no scans can tell us this. So let's leave the Mother to be to tune into her baby and stay relaxed. That's the best for both of them.
My advice is not to tell your due date to your family and friends. I have experienced this during my first pregnancy and the pressure was really uncomfortable. Text messages and phone calls every day around the due date. One from my Mum, a few from friends, another from my sister. Then obviously the check ups in the hospital. Nothing pleasant. And the outcome? I felt under pressure instead of enjoying the last few days of pregnancy. The labour started on Sunday night, after a relaxing weekend with my husband.
With my second pregnancy I was experienced enough to answer the due date question simply with the month. It should be May and May it was.
The history of due date...
...goes back to the mid 18th century when the Dutch professor, Hermann Boerhaave, studied 100 women (!) and established that the pregnancy lasts 40 weeks from the last period. However, it was not clear whether from the beginning or the end of the period. In 1812, this study was extended by German professor, Carl Naegele, but he still did not make clear when to start counting this 40 weeks. So doctors were sometimes counting it from the beginning and sometimes from the end of the last period. The change took place at the beginning of 20th century when American medical books started, for unspecified reasons, counting from the beginning of the last period.
And this method is still valid. Of course, we have the scan but it doesn't give us an accurate date either as the ultrasound due dates have a margin error of approximately 1.2 weeks. My second baby was supposed to be small and its due date was moved from the 8th to the 12th based on the scan. She was born on 5th with 3.76 kg.
What I am trying to say...
...in this article is that due dates are fine to arrange things, plan that your partner doesn't travel around this date if possible, that you have enough help and also some time to yourself. It is not, however, an eviction date. It is simply an estimation.
Enjoy your pregnancy and don't let anything or anyone to stress you.