There have been many fantastic posts written in the past few years detailing the errors in judging a pregnancy by it's due date and I won't try to recreate these here. (Although I cite a great one at the bottom of this post "The Lie of the Estimated Due Date" - definitely take a look!). There are also some simply excellent articles written about the problems with induction for going post dates (like this one from Midwifery Today). Check them out.
What instead I'd like to offer are some simple words of reassurance and, possibly, wisdom to those creeping up on or past their "due dates."
First, remember, "due dates" are just averages! Only about 4% of women actually birth on their due date (Simkin) and it is estimated that about 50 to 80% of mothers will go past 40 weeks of pregnancy (Safranski). That said, I am no stranger to the anxiety that settles in as the days continue to go by and the baby continues to stay put and the care providers continue to pressure.
So here are my words of wisdom! They come as a doula but also as a momma of two boys who really liked life in the womb, so much so that they chose to spend a good solid 42 plus weeks in there.
Think of the due date as a day of celebration! A day of "Yay! We have made it, baby and I, forty weeks into pregnancy!" Momma's body and Little One's placenta have grown a healthy and happy baby that is getting more and more equipped for life outside the womb with every moment that passes.
Think of the due date as the due month, rather than one day - such a small moment in the scheme of a full term pregnancy can feel very daunting. When it is generalized to the due month (which is actually far more accurate as about two thirds of women birth within ten days of their due date (Simkin) and up to 19% of women actually reach 42 weeks of pregnancy (Davis), it feels like a space in time where the baby can prepare, where the body can make changes, and where labor can unfold. The due month allows time for the process to take place. A process requires time and space and effort - all of which is far too much to ask of just one day.
Think of the due month as your time to take mental note of your head space. Tie up loose ends, set aside moments for reflection and appreciation. And spend every moment savoring the time and energy that your body and baby are so willing to give to the pregnancy.
The "due date" is no more than one day, nestled in around the end of pregnancy. By reframing a woman's outlook, she can enjoy the last moments of pregnancy and stay calm and centered, allowing the process of labor and birth to unfold in a supported and peaceful space.
Davis, Elizabeth. Heart and Hands. Berkeley: Celestial Arts, 2004. Print.
Misha Safranski. "The Lie of the Estimated Due Date (EDD): Why Your Due Date is Not What You Think." Peaceful Parenting. Peaceful Parenting, 9 Sept. 2009. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
Simkin, Penny. Prengancy Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide." New York: Meadowbrook Press, 2001. Print.
As the Philadelphia birth world blooms bigger and brighter, I think it's time I start putting some of the insightful questions I've received and information I've research into a public journal. I hope you'll find this inspiring, empowering, and totally enjoyable.