The Dreaded "Due Date"

by Justine Waldram


When we get pregnant, one of the first things midwife, our OB or we figure out is our due date. When in the next 9-ish months is my baby going to be born? The main thing I hate....or dislike.....about the due date is that once its passed we freak out!! We've been told that there is a higher chance of stillbirth once you've passed the magical Due Date and that drugs need to be used for induction. Well.... that is not exactly true.

From Midwifery today- (a journal written by midwives about the science and evidence behind out of hospital birth) "Postdates, by itself, is not associated with poor pregnancy outcome. Extreme postdates (passed 43 weeks) or postdates in conjunction with poor fetal growth or developmental abnormalities does show an increased risk of stillbirth. But if growth restriction and birth defects are removed, there is no statistical increase in risk until a pregnancy reaches 42 weeks and no significant risk until past 43 weeks. The primary "evidence" of a sharp rise in stillbirth after 40 weeks seems to come from one study based on data collected in 1958.(1)

Modern statistics show an almost flat rate of stillbirth from 40 weeks to 42, with a slight rise at 43 weeks (all numbers being close to 1/1000).(2)" 

Now its up to you to decide if this is true; to decide whether or not to read the data from the studies-both recent and outdated. I decided to read them. It's true. Being passed your due date, "late", or postdates is not dangerous--when other factors like the baby's growth and placenta function are good, and from my (semi-limited) experience most of the time babies do just fine between 40 and 42 weeks. We use ultrasound to determine if the pregnancy is still healthy and well to decide to carry on without drugs or surgery to deliver the baby. 

The laws that govern what midwives can/can’t do are currently changing, for better and worse. In relation to this topic, licensed midwives like me are only supposed to deliver babies between 37-42 weeks. Just a bit of info...

What I’m really trying to say here is once your due date comes and goes, try not to panic (even if your OB is).  As long as your baby is growing and there are no other complications, continuing to be pregnant is actually the best thing for your baby. Hopefully knowing this will help us be patient as our babies decide when they are ready to be born, instead of deciding for them.

Reference this Midwifery Today article at:  http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/timely.asp

justine