Your Due Date is Really a Guess Date

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Boston, MA, USA

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If you've ever spoken to HeHe before...

Then you know how frustrating it is to me that healthcare providers put so much weight on due dates--I literally cringe. It evokes such a dramatic eye-roll, I worry my eyes may never recover. Your due date is a guess. It is an estimated guess, so it's really a guess-stimate. To place so much emphasis on a guess-stimate is silly. Then, the expectant parents become infatuated with this one day. The expectant grandparents are obsessed with this date. Friends and family count down the days until this guess-stimate arrives. It creates so much build-up to a date that is simply an estimate. 

And what happens when that date has come and gone, yet you are still pregnant? You still don't have a baby to snuggle? You still have to lift your pregnant belly each time you pee and you still have to sleep with a million pillows? Heartache and disappointment is what happens. Moms, dads, non-binary parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, and the list goes on and on--everyone is disappointed and anxiety begins to grow. You (as the expectant parent) and everyone around you feels let down somehow. As if it was anti-climatic and you had a much bigger, grandiose idea in mind for this guess-stimate date.

Even the Royal family has caught on to this idea that your Estimated Due Date is really a Guess-stimated Due Date. Check out how Kate Middleton has adopted this trend that we, at Tranquility by HeHe, know all too well. 

I made it to 40+1...Bummer. 

Your due date is based off your last ovulation (which is always changing). Some people have no clue when the first day of their last period was and some people keep strict, regimented diaries of their cycles. You can fall anywhere on this spectrum, but nevertheless the date you give your healthcare provider is what your guess-stimate date will be based on. From that your doctor (or midwife) will guess 40 weeks from the point in which they (with your help) guesses that your conceived your baby. See how things might be off by a day or so? Or maybe even a week or two?

With this Due Date in mind, your baby could still come 14 days before or after that date (and still be considered full-term). Obviously, there is always risk that your baby could come before the two week period leading up to your guess-stimated due date. This is called Preterm Birth. Pregnancies that begin to approach the 42 week mark will begin to be pressured to have interventions such as inductions to help progress or initiate labor. It's challenging (but not impossible) to find a healthcare provider that is comfortable (or will even "allow" you) to go past 14 days of your original due date.

40 weeks + 1 day, 40+2, 40+3 and so on is the language used to talk about "overdue" pregnancies. It's how we talk about parents who went "past their due date" or baby's who were "a little too comfy." If you find yourself in this population of expectant parents, don't fret. Instead, plan ahead for this likely possibility. Create a space for your body to continue to work hard and grow that healthy baby. Allow your baby more time to continue to develop and prepare for their journey earthside.

So Now What? 

Occupy yourself and trust your body. I know, I know, you're thinking, "yeah right!" I know. It's hard.

It can be so hard to do this. On a day that you have looked forward to for roughly 8 months and you wake up to no signs of oncoming labor. This can be devastating. It can feel so deeply disappointing if you aren't properly prepared. It can be challenging to cope with the fact that most babies are not born on their due date--especially since society (and the birth world) makes such a big deal of this date. A date based in guess-stimation. 

It is even more important at this stage of your pregnancy to trust in your body. Trust that your baby knows when to begin making moves. Michel Odent has been teaching birth workers and expectant parents the skill of trusting our bodies for ages. He believes (and so do I) that the baby talks to the birthing parent's body. The baby's body will literally send signals to the parent's body to say, "It's go-time!" Up until this point, you risk certain adverse affects such as your baby's lung not being fully developed and under-prepared for the strain of the outside world. He explains how we understand that the initiation of labor remains in the baby's hands and to trust your baby to know when they are mature enough for life independent of the parent's body and support. Odent believes that scheduled c-sections without the trial of labor and the induction of labor is forcing a premature delivery on babies who have not signaled that they are ready. To read more about Odent's teachings and research, check out the book Pushed by Jennifer Block.

With your guess-stimate date approaching, create a day filled with activities. Maybe this is the evening that you and your partner have a final date night before baby arrives. Maybe you spend this day pampering yourself with spa appointments, acupuncture, and getting your nails done because who knows when the next time you'll have time for luxury and leisure all to yourself. Maybe you spend the day meeting with friends that you haven't seen in a while, spend the day creating a baby book, or catching up on thank-you notes for items you received at showers.  Treating this day like any other day has proved to be near impossible for most expectant parents I have ever worked with--mainly because so much weighs on this date. Reserving this day for special activities makes it a day you still look forward too (and are excited about), but it has more attached to it than just the (unlikely) birth of your child.

Trust the Process...  

When you understand and trust the process, it's easy to trust your body. You know you can trust your baby to make their grand debut when they are ready. It's also helpful to think about your "due date" in terms of a "due period" or a "due month." To avoid deep disappointment if (and when) your due date comes and goes with no baby to cuddle, plan a day filled with special activities to celebrate the so-soon-arrival of your little one. Trying to treat your guess-stimate date as any other ordinary day can be chall painful and anxiety-provoking for most. Coping ahead of time and understanding the facts can help you feel more relaxed on your guess-stimate date and more confident in your body to work it's magic when your baby signals they are ready.

Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts
"We can't wait to pamper you."

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