Hi Dreamers, Clodagh here founder of The Dream Birth Company and Mama to Sierra.
Today, I would like to share my due date story....or what I now like to call.....my Due Month. Thanks to my mindful birthing and hypnobirthing training I am a lot wiser around the idea of "due dates" and I am fascinated with the research round this concept. Hoping this blog post will help you reframe your thoughts around the day your baby will enter the world.
I was a classic example of what most first time Mamas are like. I was given a due date, and I cemented that due date in my mind as the day my baby was coming...maybe a day or two either side. Even though with my nursing background and understanding that babies come usually when they are ready to come. I couldn't help felt confident that on the 19th of December was when things would start moving.
And boy, was I mistaken.
I had proudly told everyone who asked "when is the baby due" the exact date we were given. Followed by "right before Christmas". What I didn't factor in was how many people who actually remember the date and proceed to message asking for updates on the days after the 19th.
Happy Due Date Day!
On the 19th of December, even my consultant Obsetritcian texted me "Happy Due Date Day". I remember the day so clearly. My partner Michael and I were finishing our Christmas shopping, eating spicy Indian curries and trying to get the oxytocin flowing.
I let the cat out of the bag!
I even posted a picture on my Instagram to let everyone know it was due date day!! I received lots of well wishes and tips from my friends which was fun but I again let the cat out of the bag to everyone!
5 days past our "Due Date"
When the 19th came and went, my excitement started to develop into impatience. I was worried as we were getting so close to Christmas how everything was going to pan out. The thoughts of inductions started to creep in on every midwife appointment that followed. There were so many messages coming in every day asking for baby updates.
Then on the 23rd of December, I decided to have some "me time". I stopped working, decided I definitely had enough Christmas presents bought, and tried to enjoy this extra time. I booked myself into a luxurious pedicure which felt so pampering. One of my best friends had a two week old baby and I was invited over to visit them. She had a very positive birth experience which really was so great to hear, her house was warm and full of love, with new born baby cuddles. As soon as I got home, I watched Christmas movies with Michael, cuddled up on the sofa and sure enough my waters broke. I honestly felt like as soon as I stopped worrying about the due day and focused on the joy all around me, I allowed my body to feel safe and loved ; the key ingredients for labour to begin.
Moral of this story is... when you become fixated on a date like I did (and everyone I had told!) it can really add some unnecessary stress to the final days of pregnancy.
Let's look at the "science" behind The Due Date.
There is no concrete evidence to back up a specific due date.
Calculations in the UK are focused on 40 weeks, yet in France it is 41 weeks, and if we look at Kenya it is different again where they say 43 weeks. There is no consistency globally....whatsoever.
Every woman has her own unique mensural cycle pattern, ovulation doesn't always happen on the 14th, and we can't always be sure of the date of our last period.
More than 90% of babies are born two weeks either side of the predicted date.
“Medicine, especially pregnancy management, is as much an art as it is a science, and we have to individualize our care and take as much information as possible about that person and that pregnancy as we’re making decisions,” Dr. Williams said. “There are very few absolutes in obstetrics.”
Only 5% are born on the predicted date itself.
In other words, the chance of this happening is less than one in 20.
Instead of "Due Date" let's call it "Due Month".
A more healthy and positive way to think of the due date is a due month.
According to the WHO ( World Health Organisation); full term is between 37-42 weeks. It's perfectly healthy for your baby to arrive within this time period.
Putting a focus on a date adds unnecessary stress and pressure on parents. Everyone knows the date has passed, constant questions and options. As the due date approaches mum becomes excited, then disappointed follows when the date arrives and goes. Stress increases your adrenaline which as we know lowers your oxytocin levels.
It’s important we reframe our expectations.
Inside of feeling overdue, you can use this time as “extra”. Use this bonus time to your advantage and enjoy “extra” dinners as a couple, cosy nights in, gentle walks in the park or around your neighbourhood. Perhaps a movie night (….make sure it’s a comedy/ feel-good movie to keep that oxytocin flowing!) or a beautiful relaxing lavender scented bath. Why not make a few special treat appointments like a pregnancy massage or a reflexology session.
Make the most of it
So, if you are coming up to your due month, try and make the most of it. Don't give exact dates to family and friends, allow two weeks either said if your given date and remember baby will come when its ready.
*Always listen and follow medical advice regarding inductions.
Research around due dates:
A 2013 study of about 18,700 women in Australia, for instance, found that just 5 percent of births happened on their due dates.
People who conceive with I.V.F. have more precise information about pregnancy timing, which is used to estimate their due dates, but even then, exact predictions are shaky.