“You are pregnant?! Congratulations, _______”? What is the first thing we typically ask when we find out someone is pregnant: when are you due? Those words give us a time to fix on and to count down towards. We can set our apps and calendars so that we can calculate the baby’s growth. We plan our work schedules and get ourselves prepared (and know when to hire a doula:). Excitement and nervousness build as the weeks roll by and your pregnant belly expands in anticipation for your birthing day. You will likely repeat your due date countless times to yourself, with your care provider and your family and friends over the several months before your baby’s arrival. But what does fixating on this specific day actually mean?
Most due dates in Canada are calculated by care providers through a dating ultrasound in early pregnancy, between 11-14 weeks or are known precisely in the case in vitro fertilization or through fertility tracking. However, the attachment to a specific due date is challenging. This is because the percentage of babies actually born on their due date is only 5% and studies show us that 50% of labours start at least 6 days ‘overdue’! (Source)
We have very advanced technology telling us more precisely than ever when a baby is supposed to be born. Yet, most babies choose to ignore these predictions and come later than anticipated.
We put babies on our timeline and start describing them as late when we go over a predicted date. These words ‘late’ or ‘overdue’ can lead to restlessness, worry. Not to mention fielding endless calls from loved ones asking ‘are you still pregnant?’. When in fact, for the majority of healthy pregnancies, these ‘overdue’ babies are right on time!
So instead of thinking about your due date, try shifting your focus to a range in which your baby can be born. A normal pregnancy lasting anywhere from 37-42 weeks. That is over a month (5 weeks) in which your little one can arrive! An alternative way to think about your due date and respond to the ‘when are you due question’ is to speak in general terms. Instead, you could use, ‘the month of October’ or ‘beginning of November’ or even saying something more general like the ‘fall’. Using these likely won’t wipe the specific date from your mind. But hopefully expanding your ‘due date’ to a ‘due date range’ can help you and your family relax into the unpredictability of birth and enjoy those last few days/weeks of anticipation of your little one’s arrival.