Let’s start today with a mini vocabulary lesson:
- Your “due date” is calculated as 281 days (40 weeks) from the first day of your last menses (your LMP)
- Post-due: 40 weeks +0 day through 41+0
- Prolonged Pregnancy: 41weeks +1 day – 42 weeks
- Post-term: 42 weeks and beyond
Most care providers give the caveat that first time mothers tend to birth closer to 41 weeks. Some midwives even like the date 41+3 as the magic day. Of course, these number are really dependent on if you know the last day of your period and if you had fairly consistent cycles month to month.
Sometimes your due date is a best guess, other times you know the minute of conception! Ultrasounds can be an extremely valuable tool if you weren’t tracking your cycle and have no clue when you conceived. If you have an ultrasound by week 13 of pregnancy you can more accurately predict that 281st day of pregnancy.
Reviewed birth data from the Midwives Alliance of North America on 20,000+ births show that even for exclusive midwifery care clients, the average gestation is 281-282 days. Of course, we know, rules are made to be broken. I must mention that there are documented risks to babies as you remain pregnant 42 weeks and beyond. If you have risk factors in your health or pregnancy, there could be very good reasons to induce labor and meet your baby sooner than later.
Seek out a care provider that will collaborate in your care and give your all the information and allow you to make your decisions for your body and your family. Talk with your doctor or midwife about what their practice guidelines are for post-due pregnancies. Know your options. AND If you happen to be one of the women birth before or after this magic number, thank you, because without your births the average couldn’t exist.
Now, the real question is: How do you make it through 40 weeks, or more, without losing your cool and getting too anxious or uncomfortable?
Nourish yourself at throughout pregnancy with whole fresh foods and plenty good fats. Hormones are built on protein and fat. Fresh veggies and fruits provide enzymes to process all those hormones and get them where they need to go.
Staying active all the way to the end helps your muscles adjust to the changing shape of your body and womb. The position of your baby in your pelvis can affect the start of labor and potentially make labor last a bit longer. My favorite resource for fetal positioning is Gail Tully’s Daily Essentials. Not only will your pregnancy be more comfortable, your labor can even be shorter with a well-positioned baby.
Reduce your stress load as much as possible. Even outside of the common sense notion that babies in utero are effected by our emotions and our health, research is finally confirming this. Also, try to poop when your running from the proverbial tiger. Stress keeps things (like sphincters and your cervix) closed.
Babies want to be born. Checking in with your heart and connecting with your body and baby every day will give you your own answers. When you don’t feel safe, comfortable and supported your body will respond with tension. I encourage you to spend quiet time each day during your pregnancy to tune in and experience your feelings and the places your body are holding on.
Practice releasing. Release each day, release the fear and the worry that your body might not work. Cultivate trust. Do all the things that make you laugh, love and celebrate. Birth marks a new beginning!
Your adventure awaits.
Stephanie Berry is the go-to guide for health and well-being at Jade Moon Herbs where she’s using herbal medicine and midwifery to change the world of health care for those of us sporting a uterus. She has supported over 200 women birthing outside of the hospital as a midwife since 2010.
Stephanie realized how much power women hold when she birthed her first baby at home (foot on a cooler, Texas-style) with just the rock solid support of her partner. It led her to create a full-service holistic health practice for women, with women.