Are you starting to think about Being Induced because your baby is “overdue”?
Have you stopped to think what this is all about?
Do you really think all babies have to be born at the same point in pregnancy?
Just think about it.
Why is there so much emphasis placed on this one ‘magical date’?
Why do we think all women have the same length of pregnancies?
Why do we think all babies are “ready” at 40 weeks?
This is actually being pushed back to 39 weeks by some obstetricians. I wrote what I think about this in my blog “Mandatory Induction at 39 weeks: No, No, No!”
Inductions are not without risk, so it is really important that you make the decision to be induced an informed evidence-based one. And think about what is best for YOU and YOUR baby.
Have you asked yourself: “What is a ‘normal’ length of pregnancy and what is ‘normal’ for me?”
We don’t expect all children to reach milestones at exact dates and ages. We know there is a whole range of normal.
We don’t expect all women to have 28 day periods that last 5 days, and to all ovulate on day 14. Once again, we accept that there is a wide range of what we consider to be absolutely normal.
In fact, there is new research suggesting women can ovulate 2 or even 3 times a month and that is normal too.
So where did this idea come from that all babies are due at 40 weeks?
Well, apparently Aristotle was the first person to document that human gestation was 10 lunar months. Which was then interpreted as 280 days, because a lunar month is 28 days.
But all lunar months aren’t 28 days. So even this original assumption was flawed.
Then in the 19th century, Frederich Naegele gave his name to Naegele’s Rule.
This is the calculation still used today, where you add one year, subtract three months, and add seven days to the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP).
Naegele’s rule was developed into the pregnancy wheel which, again, is still used by some care providers today.
The trouble with these wheels is that they are manufactured mainly by drug companies and have been found to have up to a 5-day difference between different wheels.
The modern-day equivalent is the “Due Date” App which is still just based on algorithms and the assumptions every woman’s body functions exactly the same way and all babies develop at exactly the same rate.
There is newer research by Mittendorf and others suggesting that we should include parity (how many babies you have had), ethnicity, height, and age, into the equation when calculating a due date. I wonder if App developers have read this research or are still using Naegele’s Rule?
And I wonder if they tell you a different due date if you are French or Japanese? Because if you were in France or Japan, your “due date” would be 41 weeks of pregnancy.
But we have ultrasound dating now, I hear people screaming!
Yes, we do, and the research shows that they are just as good at predicting when your baby is 40 weeks as you are if you know the date of your last LMP.
But is this the point?
All the above methods can do, is tell you when you are 40 weeks pregnant, to varying degrees of accuracy.
None of them can tell you when YOUR baby is ready to be born.
Only your baby knows that.
I go back to my point about children all developing at different rates.
Why don’t we think our babies develop at different rates in the womb?
Just because two babies are both 38 weeks doesn’t mean they have developed in exactly the same way.
In YOUR baby’s last weeks of gestation amazing things happen including:
- antibodies are passed from you to your baby to help him/her fight infections in the first days and weeks of life
- brain development speeds up
- suck and swallow coordination improves
- brown fat increases meaning your baby will be able to regulate his/her temperature
- iron stores increase
But remember, we have no way of telling when this will happen for YOUR baby.
Wouldn’t it be better to just wait until YOUR baby tells you that he or she is ready to be born?
I have so much more to say on this topic as I know many of my clients are being induced because they reached a certain “date”, not for any clear medical reasons.
I also know that there are some care providers who think there are medical reasons for inducing your labour because you have reached a certain date.
However, the evidence for this is not robust and I will share this in subsequent blogs.
I am now full of knowledge, answers, and confidence in this area, since completing my studies with Sara Wickham in her course “Post Term Pregnancy: Exploring evidence, inspiring confidence”.
If you can’t wait for my next blog and need to know the evidence (or lack of it) now, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to share it with you.
In the meantime read these very thought-provoking articles:
I also highly recommend Sara’s book Inducing Labour: making informed decisions