In the third trimester, you are eagerly marking off the calendar in anticipation of the due date. At the outset let us get one thing clear. Your baby is not a library book. Your baby will not check out just because it is the due date. Only five percent of pregnant women deliver on their due date. That is to say ninety five percent of the time the baby comes out on their own schedule.
What is due date?
Approximately eighty percent women deliver between 37th and 42nd weeks. That is the range your due date can have.
How is it calculated?
- The doctor takes the first day of your last menstrual cycle and adds 280 days to it. This is the equivalent of 40 weeks. This method assumes that your periods arrive like clockwork every 28 days. If that is not true, then your due date will change. If your cycles were longer, then you are likely to deliver after the due date. If they were shorter then before the due date.
- A more precise way to arrive at the due date is the sonogram at the end of the first trimester. Your doctor will tell you the due date based on the length of the fetus and the size of the gestational sac.
However, do understand that both these methods take the 40th week as the due date. Your baby may check out earlier or later. So anytime between 37th to 40th week is considered term.
One random method of predicting the accuracy of the due date is history. If you are a first-time mother look at your own mother’s history. If she delivered after due date, chances are that so will you.
Sooner than Due Date?
Around eleven percent women go into pre term labour (Before the 37th week). Some of the reasons could be-
- Infections in the vagina
- Shape of the uterus
- Body weight of the mother.
- Carrying multiple babies
Later than due date?
Some pregnancies go beyond the 41st week. Your doctor will be asking you to come for regular checkups twice a week. If your pregnancy progresses beyond this point, there are certain risks-
- The quality of the placenta can deteriorate
- The amniotic fluid level will decline
- The baby can pass a bowel movement that they can aspirate into their lungs.
- You are at a higher risk of needing a C-section as the baby is growing.
For these reasons, the doctor might suggest inducing labour once you hit 42 weeks.
Whether you calculated on the basis of the ultrasound or the last period, the due date is just a comfort fantasy that you hold dear given the discomfort you are in. It is not a guarantee of the baby leaving the womb. The important thing is that your baby is healthy and happy and arrives when you and your body is ready for them. In any case you will be a happy mother, so congratulations on that!