Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why I Won't Tell You My "Due Date"

When a woman announces a pregnancy (or happens to venture out in public visibly pregnant), there are a number of questions she'll field on a regular basis:

Photo by Nicole Aarstad
"How are you feeling?"

"Do you know what you're having?"

"Wow, you're huge!" (Okay, not a question. Alternately: "Wow, you're tiny!" We're never just the right size, we pregnant women.)

"What's your due date?"

The first two questions? Piece of cake, for me. First trimester? I'm feeling good overall, just tired. Second trimester? I'm feeling great! Third trimester? I'm feeling good overall, just tired and starting to get uncomfortable.

No problemo.

Second question? Boy parts. Easy.

Third...well...observation? I've learned to take it in stride and then complain to my husband about it later. My husband who then reminds me that I'm beautiful and glowing and amazing and miraculous and yes, just the right size.

The fourth?

When am I due?

I waffle. I'm wishy-washy. I am not going to give you the answer you seek, which is a specific day on the calendar, and you're probably going to think I'm crazy for evading such a seemingly simple question.

"Around the end of January."

For some people, this is a satisfactory. For most, it is not. They demand to know the specific moment at which the timer that is apparently ticking away inside of me will go off with bells and whistles and an electronic voice warning "OVERDUE! OVERDUE! OVERDUE!"

If I say "I don't believe in due dates." They look at me like I'm nuts. If they ask "But what exact date did the doctor give you?" and I say "I don't have a doctor, I have midwives, and they too think I'll have the baby around the end of January." They look at me like I'm nuts. If they ask "But when will they induce you?" and I answer "They won't without a medical indication for induction." They look at me like I'm nuts. (Not to mention that inductions greatly increase the chance of uterine rupture in VBAC; oh, and they can't be done in my living room.)

I've tried "The baby is most likely to arrive at some point between mid-January and mid-February," and they think I'm being deliberately obtuse.

But it's true! The baby really is most likely to arrive at some point between mid-January and mid-February, with the greatest likelihood being toward the end of that window. The fact of the matter is, most babies don't arrive on their "due date." (In reality, the mean length of gestation is 41 weeks 1 day for first time moms and 40 weeks 3 days for subsequent babies. [source]) I don't put any stock in my "estimated due date", a date that is arbitrarily calculated based on a 28 day cycle with ovulation and fertilization occurring on day 14. The "due date" indicates 40 weeks of gestation. There is a mistaken assumption that going one moment past that magical date means the baby is "overdue" and must immediately be evicted from the womb. The truth is that normal gestation often lasts up to 42 weeks. Putting too much stock in "due dates" causes a lot of anxiety and stress, both for pregnant women and for their families and friends. It causes a lot of interventions that increase the risk of fetal distress, unnecessary cesarean deliveries, and pulling buns out of the oven that just weren't quite done baking yet.

So I won't tell you my due date. Because I don't want you to start worrying and hounding me if it passes. Because I don't want you to start telling me I should induce when it gets close. Because I won't be "overdue" until two weeks past my "due date." And even then, I won't automatically consent to induction, unless there is a medical indication to do so. Most importantly, I won't tell you my "due date" because the actual, exact, specific date I am due is on whichever day my baby is ready to born, and my body is ready to birth him, and I won't know what that date it is until it arrives. I am as excited as you are to find out when my baby's birthday will be, but we'll just have to wait and see!

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  1. I completely agree! I won't tell anyone my exact due date either...for all those reasons.

    1. It's nice to know I'm not alone! It seems that so many people count down to their due date, practically to the minute, and then get so disappointed and stressed out if/when it passes!

  2. Some mamas are microwaves, some are crock pots. My babies were 8-20 days "late" and I made myself miserable expecting things to be different.

    1. I am LOVING the microwave/crock pot metaphor. Can I steal it? :)

  3. It is so refreshing to read a like-minded person's blog. Thank you for reminding me I'm not alone in this. I'm only about 8 weeks, so since I'm not really showing yet, I haven't had this come up, but I will be ready when I do! We're using midwives only with a home water birth and because of reactions from family, I'll probably be keeping that to myself!

    Thank you again.

    1. Thanks Melissa! Congratulations on your pregnancy, is this your first? My friends and family have been mostly very supportive (and if not, they know me well enough to be quiet, lol) of our plans for a water birth at home. Ours will be a VBAC; we are very excited!

  4. Yes, yes, yes!! We don't even tell our parents the "due" date anymore. Mostly because when I went to 41 weeks with my first, I was harassed by daily calls in that last couple weeks just to see how I was feeling, did I think the baby would come soon, or worst: the very impersonal "baby yet?" text message. As if I might have had the baby, but not told anyone...

    I find that the people who really push you for a date are the ones with a birthday around the same time, and are hopeful the babe might be born on their special day. I always tell them that if it is then they can make the first donation to the college fund!

    1. That is my fear, and the last thing a woman who is THAT pregnant needs it people hassling her about when the baby will come! :)

      I went into labor with my daughter at 39w4d, but she was breech, and my understanding is that breech babies are more likely to come earlier.

  5. Amen sister! I ended up telling people what my "due date" was not really thinking about it. When I ended up going 16 days "late" I used it as an opportunity to educate people that a late baby, even a post dates baby, doesn't need to be induced without medical indication. Thanks for linking up your post with the Tuesday Baby Link Up! I'm featuring it on our pinterest board.

    1. I actually went into labor a few days before my "due date" with my daughter (who was breech), but I'm not counting on that happening again, so I'm keeping mum! :)

      Thanks for featuring my post! <3

  6. I enjoy watching people squirm when I tell them I don't have a doctor/don't know my due date/am having baby(ies) at home. (I suppose this might be because the people close to me are cool with this, so I have no one to give me much grief.)

    1. lol! I'm just very matter-of-fact about it, and so far, people have either been supportive or kept quiet if they aren't. ;)

  7. Wonderful! This is so wise. Just think of the positive message you are sharing with future pregnant mamas! Thanks for participating in the Tuesday Baby Link Up.

  8. I love this because I had this conversation SO SO many times with people when I was pregnant with my baby girl. Thank you for sharing and for linking up at The Tuesday Baby Link Up!

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