What Does Your Due Date Really Mean?

By JoLyn Seitz, MD Jul 03, 2017

As soon as you announce you are pregnant, you’re likely to hear, “When is your due date?” The truth is, you are very unlikely to have your baby on your due date. More precisely, the medical world often refers to it as EDD, the estimated date of delivery. Due dates are exactly that – an estimate.

Calculating Your Due Date

Remember your due date is calculated from the first day of your last period. This is an important date for your provider to know to have an accurate due date. If you are unsure of when your last period was or your cycles are irregular, you should contact your provider early to see if an ultrasound is needed to calculate your due date.

Announcing Your Pregnancy

One important issue in the first trimester is the concern for miscarriage. Studies show that about 8 to 20 percent of women who know they are pregnant have a miscarriage, some time before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Around 80 percent of these occur in the first 12 weeks. This is an important thing to consider when announcing your exciting news about the pregnancy. Some women choose to announce their pregnancy around 12 weeks, after their first OB visit at 7 weeks.

Delivery and Your Due Date

Only five percent of women deliver on their estimated due dates. A due date is calculated as 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period. However, many factors can influence a woman’s estimate of that date. Often, your provider will order an ultrasound in your first trimester to help establish your due date.

First time mothers can go past their due date to 41 or 42 weeks. Most of the time, providers prefer to let nature take its course and your baby will be born when he or she is ready. In some cases, if your health or the baby’s health warrants it and you are past your due date, your provider may decide to induce labor. Some of the reasons for induction include low amniotic fluid surrounding the baby, medical conditions that may put you or your baby at risk, or other possible complications.

One to two weeks after a missed due date is generally the time when providers become concerned, provided there haven’t been complications with previous pregnancies. They will discuss with you the options for induction.

Feel free to ask your provider at what point he or she may consider induction and what the advantages and disadvantages might be. You and your provider share the same goal: a healthy baby and mom.

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