"Due Date" as a Month-Long Window
During my pregnancies with my three boys, I experienced the pressure and anxiety surrounding the elusive "due date." As the date approached, I felt the weight of expectations and the fear of potential interventions if I went past that day.
It wasn't until I read the eye-opening book "In Your Own Time" by Dr Sara Wickham that I realized the fallacy of the traditional due date concept. I discovered that due dates are not set in stone and that the timing of birth varies greatly among women. In this blog post, I want to share my newfound knowledge and invite you to embrace the reality of viewing due dates as a month-long period rather than a rigid deadline.
Dr. Sara Wickham's book revealed that "only 5% of babies were born on their due date" and "about 66% of births occurred within seven days on either side of the estimated date of birth." That means the pregnancies of "30-34% of healthy women who go into spontaneous labour at term" will be longer or shorter than that. That is one-third of women!
In my previous belief when I was pregnant, I considered ultrasound technology to be highly accurate in determining due dates. However, Dr Wickham's book enlightened me about the limitations of ultrasound in predicting the precise timing of birth. Ultrasound estimates are based on population averages and do not account for individual variations in fetal growth. The "due date" calculated from ultrasounds remains a rough estimation and not a definitive deadline.
I cannot recommend Dr Sara Wickham's book enough, especially if you wish to make informed decisions regarding induction of labour. Through her expert explanations, she debunks the myths surrounding due dates using compelling evidence. As a Doula and a non-medical person, I found her book accessible and enlightening.
With my newfound understanding, I now approach due dates as a month-long period rather than a singular day. I encourage my clients—and all expecting mothers—to adopt this perspective as well. By acknowledging the variability of birth timing, we can alleviate the pressure and anxiety associated with an arbitrary deadline. As a Birth Doula, I am prepared and available from 37 weeks until the baby is born, honouring the unique journey each mother and baby embark upon.
It's time to embrace the freedom that comes with acknowledging the natural variations in birth. Dr Sara Wickham's book has shed light on the inaccuracies of due dates and the empowering knowledge that we have the ability to give birth within a broader timeframe. Let's support each other in embracing this new perspective, empowering ourselves to make informed decisions, and celebrating the beautiful and unpredictable nature of birth.