Pregnancy has been a journey of unknowns. Every little change, turn or kick is something new. I am a person who prefers control and knowledge over the unexpected or surprise, so while I have had a very easy pregnancy, I have felt unsettled with all of the newness.
During this last month of pregnancy I have worked to get everything ready for my students while I am out on maternity leave as well as prepping our house and nursery for Baby Helms. While waiting (semi)patiently for March 22nd, I was glad to finally have a date would be the end of pregnancy and the beginning of something completely new with the baby. Yet because I am a planner and someone who does not like when plans have to change, I am sitting here five days past that looming due date, still waiting.
Throughout these past 10 months, I have read many articles about pregnancy, birth and parenting. Every google of each tiny little symptom during pregnancy brings a plethora of forum posts with every possible opinion and every possible answer to fit whatever answer you have already decided upon. While mom blogs and advice articles and even the forums are sometimes are great, I have gravitated toward the stats and data tables of PubMed articles with huge sample sizes and reassuring graphs. Last night during my 3-5am wake cycle that has become normal in the past few weeks, I searched and found some articles that explained the “overdue”. All of the articles seemed to have a common theme: EDD or estimated due date should be seen as an estimate and not a deadline. For some reason (maybe it has to do with the abundance of apps counting down with weekly fruit comparison), people want to know when you are “due”, even if only 4% of women actually have babies on their due dates. Here is what my middle of the night research found:
- Pregnancy should not have a singular due date because every women has slightly different lengths of ovulation.
I have found it generally quite reliable, and far more satisfactory in its result than any plan which has yet been proposed. Imagine, for example, the termination of the last menstrual period to be on the tenth day of January; then count back three months, which will correspond with the 10th day of October; now from the 10th of October add seven days—this will bring you to the 17th day of October— the day on which labour will commence. This, I repeat, has, according to my observation, proved a most satisfactory test; and I, therefore, commend to you with much confidence.
This quote was taken from the writings of Franz Carl Naegele in 1812. He built this idea on previous understands based on the length of time of Christ’s birth, more specifically: For many centuries it has been accepted that the normal gestation period for humans is ten lunar, or nine calendar months. This was reinforced by the New Testament account of the birth of Christ and the nine month gestation from the Feast of the Annunciation in March until Christmas Day.
This principal is still being used today, even though, as the researchers conclude, every woman is different and length of gestation should not be determined to be exactly 280 days. Multiple other articles have been written showing that women should not be considered “past due” until after 42 weeks.