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Natalie Clauss

The thing with the birth date

Every pregnant woman has it entered in her maternity record: the expected date of birth, or ET for short. And many expectations, hopes and anticipations are attached to this date. Perhaps as this date approaches, fears about the birth also arise. But what does this date actually mean?

How is the ET calculated? What does the due date depend on?

A normal pregnancy lasts on average 280 days, i.e. 40 weeks. These 40 weeks are calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period. However, it lasts only on average 280 days. Any birth 3 weeks before or 2 weeks after this calculated date is still considered "regular". It is therefore within the normal range. But why does the duration of a pregnancy vary even up to 5 weeks? And where do these variations come from?

First of all, it's simple: every body is different and yes, every child is different too. Thus, the duration of pregnancy of a woman can even be different from child to child. Other factors that are rarely taken into account when calculating the due date are the length of the cycle, the actual date of ovulation and fertilization, and individual genetic factors as well as environmental factors.

Some women basically have a very irregular cycle, which already makes it very difficult to calculate a date for birth. But our female cycle is also otherwise very susceptible to disruptive factors. Often a little stress is enough and we get our period a little earlier or later. Our hormonal system can easily be influenced by external factors, which is also noticeable during and after birth.

In the end, only about 5% of babies are actually born on their expected due date. All other babies come either earlier or later. I sometimes wonder, if the calculation is already so inaccurate, why exactly are women put under so much pressure? As soon as the calculated date is reached, sooner or later there is more and more talk about the fact that it should start slowly after all. The topic of induction becomes more and more present. Only, as long as mom and baby are doing well, why?

Some babies need a little more time than others, without any signs of trouble after birth. I'm not talking here about cases where induction is really medically necessary!

And again, depending on the emotional situation of the woman, a birth can be delayed or perhaps start earlier. There are reports from war zones where women already had labor pains, but the birth suddenly stagnated when they no longer felt safe and their child was born a few days later. A natural birth needs safety. But with all the pressure, sometimes it's not so easy to stay relaxed.

So why don't we rather define a birth period instead of a, well estimated, birth date? Wouldn't that take the pressure off all sides?

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