When you find out you are pregnant, the first thing you want to know is when you can expect your new bundle of joy. While calculating a due date is not an exact science, keeping track of your menstrual cycles, your fertile days, and the days when you have sexual intercourse can help you and your doctor determine around when your baby will arrive.
For women with a generally regular, 28-day menstrual cycle, the due date is calculated by adding 280 days, or 40 weeks, to the first day of your last menstrual period. If you keep track of your ovulation and sexual activity, you can also calculate your due date by adding 38 weeks, or 266 days, to the estimated date of conception.
It’s important to keep in mind that when doctors calculate the length of a pregnancy, they start counting at the first day of the last menstrual period. That means that when you ovulate and your egg is fertilized, the pregnancy is already considered to be two weeks old.
If you have irregular periods and aren’t sure when you last menstruated, and you aren’t sure of the date when you may have conceived, there are other methods the doctor can use to help date your pregnancy. These may include an internal exam to assess the size of your uterus or an early ultrasound. Once the doctor determines an estimate due date, this date is confirmed by milestones later in the pregnancy, including fetal heartbeat, which can be heard between nine and 12 weeks; first fetal movement detected, typically between 16 and 22 weeks; and fundal height, or top of the uterus, reaching your naval (typically around week 20).
In addition, bear in mind that a due date is only an estimate, and the actual birth date of your baby is influenced by a range of uncontrollable factors. Only about five percent of births occur on the actual due date, with most women giving birth somewhere between 38 and 42 weeks. After 42 weeks, the doctor may consider an induction for the health of you and your baby, a step that is determined by protocols and diagnostic testing.
If you are planning to become pregnant, contact South Lake Obstetrics & Gynecology today. We can help you take steps to achieve the best possible health before conceiving, to help ensure a bright future for you and your baby.