2 Reasons Why Due Dates are a Myth

Did you know that 95% of due dates are incorrect?!

The idea that pregnancy is 40 weeks long was put forward by 18th century German obstetrician Franz Naegele. His rule adds nine months and seven days to the first day of the last menstrual period. Many women regard the 40-week due date as a deadline, which if missed, could place their baby under stress. But in the 21st century, this formula deserves to be seriously reconsidered…yet it is still used by some people to this day.

For instance, its very common for people around you to still think in terms of a 40 week pregnancy. Even the NHS acknowledges the way that due dates are calculated to be misleading, yes they use the same calculator as everyone else but they do state that babies tend to arrive anytime between 37 and 42 weeks which is a 5 week window of probability. It’s worth remembering that some babies arrive before 37 weeks and some after 42 weeks – every pregnancy is different.

The NHS do like to use your due date to measure risk but seeing as they use a blanket risk assessment for every pregnancy, it’s worth finding out more, if you’re not comfortable with the way things are going. Every pregnancy is unique and what might work for you, may not work for someone else.

Pregnant_woman_practising_hypnobirthing_relaxation

Are interventions needed?

Nevertheless, as you approach your 'due date' you may start being offered sweeps which is a form of intervention to try and kick labour off. The issue is, if your body isn't ready to go into labour then a sweep is unlikely to do anything to help. If you think about most due dates being incorrect - it's no wonder that many women are offered sweeps when it's unlikely their body is actually at their due date. When a sweep doesn't work, the next step is induction. 50% of pregnancies are induced in the UK and the basis for induction is being overdue. Due dates tend to be wrong...do you see how we start to run into issues?

Using a completely outdated system is unhelpful because, well - it’s out of date! It also doesn’t take into account that women have different cycle lengths and so ovulate at different times. Only 5% of babies are born on their due date, and yet most of us put a huge amount of significance on it…which is most likely to be incorrect anyway.

woman_having_induction_of_labour

So how to manage this with your healthcare team and others?

  1. You may notice, throughout your pregnancy, everyone will ask when you're due? This can be hard to navigate but don’t be afraid to explain that there is only a 5% chance your baby will arrive on their due date so perhaps forget the actual ‘due date’ altogether. My top tip is to focus on the month of your due date - not the specific day. Babies usually decide when they are ready to be born. To put it simply, they come on their birthday! This can be really helpful when managing the questions around when you are due
  2. You can quote that babies tend to arrive between 37 to 42 weeks in order to have a constructive conversation with your healthcare team who will be using Naegele’s rule to dictate your healthcare plan.
  3. If you accept a sweep, ask for your Bishops Score. This is a rating given to your cervix after a sweep to assess how ready for labour you are. If your score is below a 7 then you know induction is unlikely to work. You can then ask for your options, listen to the advice and take it from there. Remember - always look up the statistics for any risks you're given so you know the likelihood of them happening to you.

Busting myths and reframing fears are two things we’re very passionate about here at butterbean. If this is something you want more of, you can find all kinds of empowering advice and no-nonsense tips on our socials, our YouTube channel, and the butterbean platform itself!

due-date-img

2 Reasons Why Due Dates are a Myth

due-date-img

Did you know that 95% of due dates are incorrect?!

Did you know that 95% of due dates are incorrect?!

The idea that pregnancy is 40 weeks long was put forward by 18th century German obstetrician Franz Naegele. His rule adds nine months and seven days to the first day of the last menstrual period. Many women regard the 40-week due date as a deadline, which if missed, could place their baby under stress. But in the 21st century, this formula deserves to be seriously reconsidered…yet it is still used by some people to this day.

For instance, its very common for people around you to still think in terms of a 40 week pregnancy. Even the NHS acknowledges the way that due dates are calculated to be misleading, yes they use the same calculator as everyone else but they do state that babies tend to arrive anytime between 37 and 42 weeks which is a 5 week window of probability. It’s worth remembering that some babies arrive before 37 weeks and some after 42 weeks – every pregnancy is different.

The NHS do like to use your due date to measure risk but seeing as they use a blanket risk assessment for every pregnancy, it’s worth finding out more, if you’re not comfortable with the way things are going. Every pregnancy is unique and what might work for you, may not work for someone else.

Pregnant_woman_practising_hypnobirthing_relaxation

Are interventions needed?

Nevertheless, as you approach your 'due date' you may start being offered sweeps which is a form of intervention to try and kick labour off. The issue is, if your body isn't ready to go into labour then a sweep is unlikely to do anything to help. If you think about most due dates being incorrect - it's no wonder that many women are offered sweeps when it's unlikely their body is actually at their due date. When a sweep doesn't work, the next step is induction. 50% of pregnancies are induced in the UK and the basis for induction is being overdue. Due dates tend to be wrong...do you see how we start to run into issues?

Using a completely outdated system is unhelpful because, well - it’s out of date! It also doesn’t take into account that women have different cycle lengths and so ovulate at different times. Only 5% of babies are born on their due date, and yet most of us put a huge amount of significance on it…which is most likely to be incorrect anyway.

woman_having_induction_of_labour

So how to manage this with your healthcare team and others?

  1. You may notice, throughout your pregnancy, everyone will ask when you're due? This can be hard to navigate but don’t be afraid to explain that there is only a 5% chance your baby will arrive on their due date so perhaps forget the actual ‘due date’ altogether. My top tip is to focus on the month of your due date - not the specific day. Babies usually decide when they are ready to be born. To put it simply, they come on their birthday! This can be really helpful when managing the questions around when you are due
  2. You can quote that babies tend to arrive between 37 to 42 weeks in order to have a constructive conversation with your healthcare team who will be using Naegele’s rule to dictate your healthcare plan.
  3. If you accept a sweep, ask for your Bishops Score. This is a rating given to your cervix after a sweep to assess how ready for labour you are. If your score is below a 7 then you know induction is unlikely to work. You can then ask for your options, listen to the advice and take it from there. Remember - always look up the statistics for any risks you're given so you know the likelihood of them happening to you.

Busting myths and reframing fears are two things we’re very passionate about here at butterbean. If this is something you want more of, you can find all kinds of empowering advice and no-nonsense tips on our socials, our YouTube channel, and the butterbean platform itself!