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Counting Down To Your Baby's Arrival

Jan 19, 2008
For an expectant mother or father, there is nothing more exciting than counting down the days until the baby's due date.

While most people speak of a "nine month" pregnancy, gestation is considered to be full term at forty weeks. Your due date is therefore estimated at forty weeks from the day conception occurred. Remember, though, that "estimation" is the key word. This system of calculation is generalized and can be somewhat inaccurate.

Many women have irregular menstrual cycles, which can often lead to an incorrect due date estimation. Generally, a baby's due date is calculated with a 28-day menstrual cycle, and it's assumed that ovulation has occurred midway through the cycle. This formula just doesn't work for all women. In fact, the estimated due date can be off by as much as a month, so don't rely too heavily on this initial date. Your pregnancy may be longer or shorter than forty weeks, and it's not uncommon for some mothers to have a true due date up to two weeks longer than the initial estimate.

Most expectant mothers are able to use their pregnancy due date as a general guide for planning when to take maternity leave. Even if it's not entirely accurate, the due date is a good indication of when you should stop working. As your pregnancy progresses, a more accurate due date can be estimated by ultrasound scans and blood tests.

Blood tests are able to pinpoint a due date more accurately. This simple test will measure the amount of hCG that a woman has in her blood, which in turn indicates how far the pregnancy has progressed. The results of these tests can be considered to be more accurate than those gained by estimations of ovulation and menstrual cycle. Most women can safely use the date from a blood test as a truer indication of when baby will arrive. Remember, hCG levels are not high enough in early pregnancy, so this test can only be done during the later weeks.

Ultrasound scans are also excellent means of establishing a truer due date. Babies develop at a relatively uniform rate during the second trimester of pregnancy. During an ultrasound scan, the technician will take pictures of your unborn child, and provide measurements to calculate the due date. The circumference of the head and length of the fetus are used as reference points in performing this calculation.

Once you receive a due date based on your ultrasound scan or blood tests, you can expect future estimations to vary by just a day or two. Every mother and baby is different, of course, so your child may arrive a day or two before or after this estimated date. Your baby's birth will probably not take place on the due date, so don't make any hard and fast plans that require a specific date.

There is no way to guarantee the exact date of your baby's arrival. After all, life's most precious moments are often left to chance.
About the Author
Rosamond Gaven writes for some great web sites, and you can read more of her work if you click here or visit this site.
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