Pregnant Mothers May Be Given More Precise Due Dates

A routine screening could help narrow the estimated delivery date for expectant moms

In a fashion that seems destined to dog me for much of my life, I arrived late to the world—ten days to be precise—to the consternation and discomfort of my mother, already a parent to two children under ten. 

While she was not a career professional, rushing around the city until she popped and tweeting between false contractions, she no doubt had her hands full at the time. Back in the darker, stingier, days of paternity leave, left to entertain two kids over the summer holidays, and largely housebound for fear I should emerge, the thought must have crossed her mind—are you ever going to make an appearance? (But, probably with way more swear words.)

So news that a routine scan may be introduced to help narrow down the estimated date of delivery, will be greeted with excited fist pumps from pregnant women the world over. Current estimates given of when women will give birth can be off by as much as two to three weeks, early or late. That’s a huge six-week window to contend with, which makes it pretty hard for us to prepare for…well, anything!

Leaving dates at your place of work, making plans to go on any short trips or even knowing when to pack your hospital bag—all these can be thrown out of whack if you go into labour much earlier than expected (or your family can continue to trip over your well-thought-out hospital bag in the hall for six weeks, serving as a painful reminder of baby’s delayed arrival.)

A new study in Philadelphia is investigating the possibility of a screening test that could be used to narrow that window down to seven days from the time of the test. By measuring cervix length at around 37-39 weeks, doctors may have a more accurate understanding of whether a mother is about to deliver soon or not.

Although the measuring of cervixes is not new, (currently it’s used as a dependable way to detect preterm birth) researchers are now hoping to use it to predict birth term as well. And, desirable though it may be for busy mom-to-be’s to have a more precise due date, most importantly the health and wellbeing of mother and baby may also be improved by these screenings.

Doctor, and author of the study, Dr Berghella said: "Women always ask for a better sense of their delivery date in order to help them prepare for work leave, or to make contingency plans for sibling-care during labor. These are plans which help reduce a woman's anxiety about the onset of labor. But having a better sense can also help obstetricians provide information that could help improve or even save a mother or baby's life".

The results of the studies are not totally conclusive yet, and mixed results in predicting due dates in this way have left it a little unpredictable. But we’ll keep our fingers crossed that in the near future this may be tweaked or developed to give pregnant moms the scoop on what to expect while they’re expecting!







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