This is personal for me. I birth my babies between 42 and 44 weeks (with the four I went into labor with). I knew the day of conception with my 4th child and she was born at 42 and 1/2 weeks. My children have weighed between six and nine pounds and have all been healthy because they were born when they were ready.
When you are 40 weeks pregnant your baby is only 38 weeks gestation. It is not until you are 42 weeks that you are truly ‘post dates’. This should be irrelevant though when we look at how the typical 40 week due date began.
“The 40 week due date is based upon Naegele’s Rule. This theory was originated by Harmanni Boerhaave, a botanist who in 1744 came up with a method of calculating the EDD based upon evidence in the Bible that human gestation lasts approximately 10 lunar months. The formula was publicized around 1812 by German obstetrician Franz Naegele and since has become the accepted norm for calculating the due date. There is one glaring flaw in Naegele’s rule. Strictly speaking, a lunar (or synodic – from new moon to new moon) month is actually 29.53 days, which makes 10 lunar months roughly 295 days, a full 15 days longer than the 280 days gestation we’ve been lead to believe is average. In fact, if left alone, 50-80% of mothers will gestate beyond 40 weeks.”
At this point, I think most of you know not all women have the same length cycles and ovulate on the same exact day in that uniform cycle. Also, not all women gestate the same, nor babies grow the exact same rate. Do all babies start walking at 11 months, 4 days, hour 23 of their life?
So, why the rush to get babies out between 38-40 weeks? That question can be answered in two words… fear and control. Doctors feel more in control with babies on the outside. Why, I have no idea. How can our world, environment, plastic, etc. grow a baby better than a mother’s perfect womb? When care providers tell women the risks of going post dates (which are not accurate, but probably what they have been taught), they hardly ever counter that with all the risks of inducing before baby is ready. A parent can not truly decide what is safe and best for their unborn child with out all the facts.
What can you do?
- Make sure the EDD given is based off of YOUR cycle. There are also different ways a due date can be calculated.
- Hire a care provider that is comfortable with post dates, meaning gestating even past 42 weeks.
- Do your own research.
- Follow your instincts and be patient! Only your baby knows when s(he) is ready to be earthside.
“French obstetrician and author Michel Odent, also a critic of the induction ‘epidemic’, as he calks it, argues that labor begins when the baby is ready to be born. Odent likens gestation to apples ripening on a tree: ‘You wouldn’t pick them all on the same day, would you?’ “- Jennifer Block, Author of Pushed
*Michel Odent is an MD practitioner who has specialized in birth, but is not an obstetrician. Small detail, but worth noting.