When your obstetrician or midwife hands you a due date during an early appointment, it feels like such an important number, as crucial as Election Day (we hope everyone who reads this voted this year!) or a major holiday or the day of your final exam. But very few — perhaps as low as 5% — of babies arrive on their estimated due dates.
If your due date is calculated based on the date of your last period, it will only be accurate if you have perfect 28-day cycles and ovulate on cue halfway through. An estimate based on an early ultrasound may be more accurate, but that doesn’t mean your baby will read his chart and obediently arrive at 40 weeks!
Due dates are useful for doctors to know when to perform certain tests and to give you a general idea of when to get the hand-me-downs washed or the freezer stocked, but don’t buy your baby lots of Aries-themed onesies yet. 80% of women deliver between 37 and 41 weeks; half of the rest deliver earlier and half later. If you can, ask your mother when she delivered you — you might be on a similar timeline.
If the promised day arrives and your baby doesn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be induced unless there is a medical reason to. Area hospitals/providers typically schedule inductions for the 41st week, or 41+3. Your doctor or midwife may perform an ultrasound, a non-stress test or other tests once your due date passes to check for low fluid, location and functionality of the placenta, etc.
What to do if you’re overdue and there’s no medical cause for concern? Here’s a few ways to pass the time:
- Compose a response to easily copy and paste to all the relatives and friends who ask you “isn’t the baby here yet?” Feeling creative? Try your hand at a couplet or haiku.
- How about an orgasm or two? Oxytocin can help trigger labor and the prostaglandins in semen (if applicable) help ripen the cervix.
- Do something relaxing just for you that’ll be a little more complicated when baby finally decides to venture out. Pull out your coloring book or watercolors, take a warm bath and sip your beverage of choice, or just eat something with both hands!
As always, you can contact your doula to help you formulate a list of questions to ask your provider should your due date come and go, and help ease your anxieties of a possible scheduled induction. Just remember: you won’t be pregnant forever!