The first day of Normal Prenatal was this week. We learned a ton of stuff, and then we pulled out our pregnancy wheels to practice with due dates, irregular cycles, etc. In our relatively large class, we had a really wide range of dates, as many as 4 or 5 days depending on how each different pregnancy wheel was constructed. And of course, that got me thinking.
Due dates are such arbitrary things. First of all, they are calculated not on the date of ovulation and therefore conception, but on the date of the last menstrual period. This of course is based on the assumption that there is such a thing as a “normal” woman with a perfect 28-day cycle. Even when a woman knows for a fact which day she got pregnant, it does not change the way the due date is calculated.
A due date is such a simple thing, really. A guess at when the baby might be born. But little things like inaccurate due dates add up and sometimes it becomes incredibly important. When women are told (as they all too often are) that it is dangerous to go past their due dates and they must be induced (because the placenta might break down!) or when women are routinely induced at 38 weeks (so that the baby won’t grow too big to fit!), an extra 4 of 5 days could have made a world of difference.
I predict that I will continue to have these sorts of completely obvious epiphanies (now, with added depth and sparkle!) as the weeks go on. It’s all of that work of rounding me out as a midwifery student.