Monday, 9 December 2013

Thinking about your due date

Hi, I'm Karenna from Hope and Honey - offering HypnoBirthing, Childbirth Classes, Birth Pool Hire and much more in Perth, Western Australia. Here's my latest blog about due dates:

It's a big red cross on the calendar, it's ingrained in our minds and it's the main question you get asked by everyone - 'When are you due?'

But it's interesting to note that only 5% of people actually give birth on their due date and that full term is anywhere between 37 - 42 weeks so why so much focus on one day?

Your due date is normally calculated by your menstrual dates and or a dating scan. Both of these can be significantly out and it's worth remembering that they call it your estimated due date for a reason. Your menstrual dates and calculating forward from them is based on a set of assumptions about the length of your cycle, your likely fertile and conception time, the calendar months involved etc. Ultrasound, although an amazing technique which allows us to see into the world of our little ones, also has varying success rates in predicting due dates, baby's sizes etc and can often vary due to sonographer / obstetrician. Ultrasound is also only accurate at estimating baby's size / due date up to 12 weeks. On top of that, as with all natural processes, people vary on their length of gestation and babies vary on their stage and speed of development.

So how are we best to look at this special day? In HypnoBirthing, I suggest to clients that they think of a birth time or birth month e.g. Mid December, and that this is what they tell people. You can often feel under a lot of unnecessary pressure around your due date and it can help if you don't have lots of well-meaning friends and family checking in on you - so give them an estimated timeframe rather than the date.

For yourself, try to remember that your body and your baby don't work to timetables and you will go into labour naturally at the perfect point for you and your baby. It's actually your baby that kickstarts labour so just as we have trusted our bodies to grow and develop these precious little bundles, it's best to trust your body to know when the baby is ready to be born.

Don't get me wrong - this isn't always easy. You may be under pressure from those around you, have important dates coming up or be under pressure from your caregiver. There's a whole host of 'natural induction methods' (e.g. curries, long walks, castor oil...and the list goes on) and there's also some medical procedures that you could be offered to induce you (e.g. stretch and sweep, rupture of your membranes, chemical induction). I'll do a future blog about induction as it's a big topic, but in terms of your due date - regardless of whether you try natural or medical induction methods the success will depend on how ready your body is to go into labour.

For a small minority medical induction is a necessary, for most of us it isn't. In Australia, the medical induction rate is nearly 30% which is three times higher than the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommended rate of 10%. The WHO rate is a valid and useful rate and many studies show that once intervention is introduced to the birthing process, it can often change the direction of that path (commonly referred to as the 'Cascade of Interventions'). Some studies have also showed the rise in babies being born who are actually premature but nearing or around their due date.

Perhaps the safest way is to relax and let nature take it's course. After all, we've trusted mother nature all the way through our pregnancy to grow little ears, fingers and toes - so let's give her a chance to start labour naturally when she's ready. Remember you are not 'post-date' until after 42 weeks, so enjoy your last few days of pregnancy as best you can, deflect any pressure you may be getting and tune in to your body's natural signs.

So the best advice for looking at your due date - dont! xxx
Put your feet up and relax!
For more advice and information, why not sign up to Hope and Honey's childbirth education classes or HypnoBirthing classes?

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