1. When a woman is given an EDD, she often get very attached to the date, planning maternity leave, relatives’ visits and more with the expectation that they will have a baby on or before that day. She might get worried if she hasn’t had any symptoms of labor coming up to that date. Some moms get frustrated if another pregnant mom due after them “goes first”. Tying your hopes on a particular day adds stress to what should be a fun time of anticipation.
2. Since you might not know for sure the date of conception, it’s hard to know exactly when 40 weeks is. Even if you know the date of ovulation, conception can be off by several days, and if you had a longer or unpredictable cycle, it could be a very different number. So, your due date might be 40 weeks into the pregnancy, or, it might not!
3. Some medical professionals want to induce at or before 40 weeks. There are several medical reasons for induction; it can be a life-saving procedure! But when you’re inducing because you’re at 39 weeks and “uncomfortable”, might not be a great reason. As mentioned in #3, you really can’t be 100% sure if you’re at 39 weeks on the dot, and earlier inductions can mean greater risk of complications or greater chance of a failed induction. Why not let your baby “cook” as long as he or she needs to, regardless of the calendar day?
4. Our society seems to be moving toward the impression that there is something wrong if you go past your EDD – even the term “late” implies that you’re not doing it right! The truth is that some babies need a little more time on the inside. Babies born at 41 weeks are not late, they’re right on time for them! Pressure to not “go late” increases stress, which can actually make it harder to go into labor.
5. Fear of having a big baby definitely contributes to the concerns of going “past due”, but babies come in all sizes, even at 40 or 41 weeks. Also, a normal baby size is between 6 and 10 pounds, so a 9 pound baby isn’t a health risk or scary scenario. Ina May Gaskin points out in her book “Spiritual Midwifery” that larger babies tend to have faster labors in her experience, so a “big baby” might be a blessing after all!
EDDs are great for knowing the best time to do certain types of testing, for figuring out what trimester you’re in, and for scheduling your doula! They help with ensuring that the baby is developing properly and help catch medical issues early, so we’re certainly not against having an estimated due date. However, we would love for healthcare providers to give an estimated due window – like, “early June” or even just “November”. Even if your doctor or midwife doesn’t give you a window, you might want to share your due date that way to help cut down on the pressure to have the baby by a certain day. Remind yourself that the “E” is for “estimated”, not “exact” and enjoy every day of your pregnancy!