After missing a menstrual cycle, women can find out they are pregnant, but can they find out exactly when they conceived? How do doctors and midwives calculate the due date, and is it really accurate? How long is pregnancy anyway? Let's take a moment to explore this question from a few different angles...
This time in a couples life is one of the most exciting times, especially with first-time parents. It becomes vital to find out the conception date, and then plan the pregnancy, birth and delivery dates from there. Pregnancy is counted from the first day of the last menstrual period. It can be estimated by adding 280 days (9 months and 7 days) to the first day of this last period. It is based on a 28 day cycle - which not all women have. Since this is most likely not the real due date, then that means that there is extra time added onto the gestation process. Instead of 9 months of pregnancy, we are now hearing that there are 10 months. Perhaps it is because of the original inception date being almost two weeks longer than it should be?
The due date is more important to doctors and hospitals because they have legal repercussions to think about. Hospitals look at different times during the pregnancy as markers for development. If they don't see it at the time it is expected, then they start to use interventions. Some hospitals won't allow a mother to go past 40 weeks without inducing labor. Their reasoning is due to infections and postpartum hemorrhaging that can happen when the baby is in the womb for an excessively long period time. This can be very dangerous to assume, especially if the due date is miscalculated. Sometimes a larger baby is seen as "older", and the due date gets pushed closer when it shouldn't. Other times, the baby just doesn't meet the time frame that was set for it from the beginning so worry takes over and unneeded emergency interventions are put in place. With today's politics on women's rights, it is important to get the date right if abortion is the desired outcome. A wrong date can be the difference between it happening or not happening.
Did you know that only about 5% of mothers actually give birth on their due date? Even an ultrasound in the third trimester is said to be extremely unreliable with an accuracy of plus or minus thirty days. As much as the date can be helpful in making sure that the mother and baby are safe and healthy, it can also cause stress and impulsiveness. Major decisions are made based on a date that is sometimes completely wrong. Until we have better ways of determining the exact day of conception, then we will continue to guess based on an old system that doesn't work. Either way, it is up to the baby and their Divine plan on when they are ready to arrive - not us. When we can be present through the entire process, we will know when it is the right time and we will understand what is best for the situation. Trust is the key, and we are evolving toward a world that enters and leaves through Faith, Love, Trust, and Hope.