What If You Go Past Your Due Date?
On average, pregnancy length is between 37 or 38 and 42 weeks. You start counting with the first day of your last menstrual cycle. Technically, you’re not even pregnant then, but that’s how it’s calculated.
We estimate conception to occur about two weeks after that. In reality, you could conceive sooner or later. But since very few people actually know their conception date, we usually use the last menstrual cycle as a more accurate way to determine how far along you are.
Due Dates Are Just Guess Dates
It helps to remind yourself that your due date is just a guess date. While most women deliver within two weeks of their due date (before or after), that’s not true for everyone. Unfortunately, the medical community gets really concerned with anyone going too far over their due date.
In fact, some women are coerced into having an induction when they’re only at 41 weeks or even sooner than that. Of course, there are true medical reasons to induce labor, but going past your due date shouldn’t be one of them. Even a woman who would like to give birth naturally is going to have a hard time saying no to an induction when her baby is late.
- The doctor is going to overwhelm her and scare her into having the baby now.
- She is probably tired of being pregnant.
- She wants to meet her baby.
- She doesn’t realize how risky inductions really are.
A woman who is getting induced will hear more about the risks of continuing the pregnancy than the risks of an induction. But if you think about it, how can your pregnancy suddenly be that risky? And when did medical interventions, such as induction with Pitocin, stop being risky?
How Accurate Is Your Due Date?
Let’s say you know the day you conceived your baby. Maybe you only had sex unprotected once during that cycle (when both of you were too lazy to get the condom) or maybe you’re superb at keeping track of your body’s signals. Conception could have occurred on that day, but it could also have been five days later.
Sperm can survive in your body for a few days. You can calculate your estimated due date, short EDD, or better called guess date, by adding 38 weeks to the day you had sex, but it could also possibly be five days later.
That’s pretty accurate. How many people know when they conceived their baby? Few do. In fact, some women don’t even recall their last menstrual period. This makes it even more difficult to figure out how far along you really are.
Babies Develop Differently
Even assuming your due date is perfectly accurate, your baby will probably not be born on that day. Your baby could still be over two weeks early or late. Think about how differently babies develop outside the womb. There’s nothing wrong with them rolling over or walking at different ages. The developmental milestones can be really far apart, and that’s not a sign of concern.
Why Is It a Problem When Some Babies Take Longer to Develop in the Womb?
Medical evidence doesn’t really present a lot of statistics on post-term mamas because doctors induce before 42 weeks of pregnancy. However naturally you try to induce labor, it’s still not what your baby wanted. Unless there’s something wrong, there should be no reason to evict him from the womb early. And most women who are induced don’t have 12-pound babies, quite the opposite.
There are plenty of 10-month mamas out there, but most of them aren’t giving birth in a hospital. When asking around on Facebook groups, I have heard people mention 43, 44, 45, and (yikes) even 46-week pregnancies.
According to midwives and doulas, few women go past 44 weeks, but some do, and that’s perfectly fine. Again, there is always the question of getting the due date right, but you also have to allow for the uniqueness of each baby and mama. I’ve had 3 post-term pregnancies myself, with the record being 43 weeks and 6 days.
Why You Should Ignore Your Due Date
From the first positive pregnancy test to the birth of your baby, you may become obsessed with one magical date: your estimated due date. Unfortunately, the due date has gained more importance than ever over the last few decades. Nowadays, modern medicine even has you believe that going over your due date can be potentially dangerous for you.
Most doctors will induce by 41 or 42 weeks at the very latest. Even midwives get uncomfortable at that point and may send you to the hospital for an induction.
The Due Date Is an Estimate
Your due date is supposed to be an estimate, hence the name “estimated due date”. Yet, everyone seems to think babies should be born on or around their due date, with only a few days’ leeway either way. That’s simply not the case.
Yes, there are only a few women who go past 42 weeks of pregnancy, but the reason is most of them get induced beforehand. But unless mother or baby are not doing well, there’s no reason to induce a pregnancy just because it’s gone past a not-so-magical due date.
Every pregnancy is different. While it’s fine to say that most babies are born between 38 and 42 weeks, it’s not okay to require this to happen. For most women, it’s impossible to determine the date of conception. But even if you know the date of conception, it doesn’t guarantee your baby will come on their due date. Some babies just need to cook a little longer.
Inductions Are Risky
Inducing labor with no criteria other than the date is risky. In fact, it’s riskier for both mother and baby. Even if inductions didn’t lead to an increased use of epidural, C-sections, and other interventions, labor itself is going to be harder on both the mother and the baby.
A baby who might handle normal labor well could easily become distressed when the mother is given Pitocin. Contractions are stronger, and simply just not natural for the woman’s body.
Another problem with induction is that they don’t always work. Giving a woman Pitocin does not guarantee the start of her labor. Guess what happens when labor doesn’t start? A C-section is next. Although if you think about it, that you couldn’t induce her body to go into labor just meant that neither she nor the baby were ready for it, which is precisely why you should have just left her alone.
There are certainly times when an induction becomes necessary. If the mother is not handling pregnancy well or the baby is in distress, then labor might need to be induced. However, this is simply not the case with most pregnancies. In fact, they induce some women before their due date just because they’re sick of being pregnant.
Before you submit to an induction, consider the risks of inducing before worrying about the risks of a prolonged pregnancy. In most cases, it’s much safer for everyone involved to continue the pregnancy until you go into labor naturally. And trust me, this will happen eventually.
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