What does EDD Mean?
EDD, or Estimated Due Date is a calculation made based on Naegele’s rule—which assumes you have a 28 day cycle and regularly ovulate on the 14th day of that cycle. To calculate your EDD, add 7 days to the first day of your last period, then count forward 9 months or backward 3 months. This is the same as counting forward 280 days from the date of your last period.
The EDD gives an idea of when labor will begin.
As a Longmont Birth Doula, I find many new moms get hung up with EDDs.
Let me explain. First, not many moms I know menstruate or ovulate by the book. Many times, ovulation occurs earlier, or later than 14 days-mid cycle. Many moms report a shorter or longer menstrual cycle—not the “regular” 28-day cycle. Many moms who have conceived via IVF are told the “accuracy” of their EDD increases significantly, since they have a transfer date. Transfer dates have caused confusion to mamas and subsequent providers—those hired after a positive pregnancy confirmation—with embryo testing and transfer dates set up on an individual basis.
All of these dates and factors aside, our EDD’s are just that. An estimation. Were pregnancy and delivery on an absolute and accurate timeline, many of us could relax in our final trimester, knowing fully what to expect. However, with the lack of an absolute date, most first time moms roll into their 40th week of pregnancy with higher than recommended expectations.
Studies have shown that 40% of new moms spontaneously give birth by 40 weeks, 5 days and 75% by 41 weeks and 2 days. If you’ve already had a baby, research shows 50% of women give birth by 40 weeks and 3 days and 75% give birth by 41 weeks. This means that for both first time and experienced mothers, the traditional “estimated due date/EDD” of 40 weeks is wrong!
Making matters more difficult, providers are offering “elective inductions” from week 37—considered to be ‘term’ for most pregnancies. They cite research around risks of stillbirth, placental calcifications, age of the mother, body mass, or baby’s size measurements based on ultrasounds…all pointing in the direction of safer, healthier babies and mothers when delivered by week 40.
EBB (evidenced Based Birth) has published studies that document risks to babies and mothers who go past their “EDD”. Risks of thick meconium (baby poop), NICU stays, Large babies, low Apgar scores, and stillbirth. All of these risks begin at startlingly LOW rates and, as the weeks go by, increase only slightly. For example, the risk of stillbirth at 41 weeks was 4 babies out of 10,000 live births. The risk of having a stillbirth at week 42 increases by 50% to 6 babies out of 10,000. Many OB’s are citing risk and studies but not mentioning relative risk…the risk of something happening to your or your baby at 42 weeks in comparison to women who deliver by 40 or 41 weeks. For more information on research on EDD, read this.
As a Longmont Doula, nothing is more difficult to advocate for than a client choosing natural birth, working with a doula, and who is told she is post-dates at 40 weeks and needs to be induced to reduce the risks of harm to her baby or herself. There is nothing more confounding than hearing from your OB that their primary concern is “Healthy baby healthy mama”. I have yet to find a family who is willing to risk their personal health or the health of their baby in any way–and would do anything that was reasonably recommended to keep their baby safe. Doulas, midwives, partners—we all strive for healthy outcomes. So what makes this such a profound problem in maternal healthcare?
I believe every family can do their own research, and formulate their own opinions about their relative risk when it comes to EDD and induction. What it means to be “post-dates” and what they feel is safe. I believe it is the responsibility of every birth-worker to present fair, balanced and well-researched evidenced-based information to their clients around EDD. On occasion, the presenting factors will still point to elective induction being the correct call. Many times, when provided with evidence-based information, families will choose against inducing prior to week 42 and have outcomes that are closer to their idea of pregnancy and birth.
We all want healthy babies and healthy mamas. Much of this relies on belief in physiological birth. Waiting for birth to begin spontaneously. Trusting our bodies and our babies. Advocating for ourselves with providers who present us with conflicting and often frightening information.
To help reduce the likelihood of elective induction, follow these simple steps:
- Become educated. Hire a doula, take a class, ask your providers for studies and do your own research.
- Avoid the “seduction of induction”. This is exaggerated by our feelings of “being done” at the end of your pregnancy. To help, do daily mediations, talk to your baby about your birth, and remembering to stay mindful and present in your final weeks, knowing you will reap the benefits of waiting tenfold.
- Look at your EDD as a EDM (estimated due month)—knowing that the range of healthy, term babies is 37-43 weeks.
- Select a provider that resonates with your personal beliefs and understandings of healthy pregnancy and birth.
Does this mean you can’t have a beautiful birth when electively induced? Of course not. As a doula it is also my job to respect the choices made by my clients and to hold space for birthing preferences and differences of opinion. I will honor and respect families choosing recommended induction and we will work together to see your sweet baby earth-side.
Doulas help educate, inform and nurture you and your partner throughout pregnancy. We’re here for you in those final weeks and days when you feel like you’re never going to have your baby. We want you to know that by waiting for spontaneous labor, you will optimize labor and birth, your newborn’s transition earthside, your ability to successfully breastfeed, your adaptations as a mother and your bond with your baby.
Blessings on your birthing…Amy