Month one Q&A

Your Pregnancy - - Contents -

Q:

I’m de­lighted to be preg­nant, and so was my boyfriend, un­til he made a cal­cu­la­tion re­gard­ing the due date and how far along I am. He reck­ons the baby can’t be his, be­cause he was away for a week when the doc­tor says we con­ceived. But it re­ally is his baby! How do I ex­plain this to him?

A:

Karin an­swers: The date your care­giver gives you is a ges­ta­tional age based on the first day of your last pe­riod (if you can re­mem­ber it!). This can be con­fus­ing be­cause you are ac­tu­ally not preg­nant for the first two weeks af­ter your last pe­riod. How­ever, doc­tors use this date as it is a day that can be pin­pointed, un­like the day you con­ceive. Even if you know when you ovu­lated (and many women do) there’s no guar­an­tee that this is the day that sperm met egg. In fact, ac­tual con­cep­tion can take place up to three days af­ter ovu­la­tion or sex. So your boyfriend’s worry is un­founded, but the fact that he is sus­pi­cious is wor­ry­ing in it­self, and you may need to talk about trust is­sues. Based on the date of your last men­strual pe­riod, we have a 40-week preg­nancy, when in fact you will only have a baby grow­ing inside you for 38 weeks. A more ac­cu­rate way to work out how preg­nant you are is to have an early dat­ing scan. A scan at nine weeks is con­sid­ered the most ac­cu­rate, as at this early point no ge­netic size fac­tors in­flu­ence the baby’s size (that only hap­pens at around 20 weeks). At this stage foetuses fol­low the same de­vel­op­men­tal pat­tern, so an ac­cu­rate ges­ta­tional age can be given. It would be bet­ter if we change the way we think about the elu­sive due date and rather talk about an es­ti­mated due “pe­riod”: from two weeks be­fore (38 weeks) your cal­cu­lated due date to two weeks af­ter (42 weeks). Your baby is con­sid­ered full term from 38 weeks, which means he is fully de­vel­oped and his lungs are ma­ture enough for sur­vival out­side of the womb. With an es­ti­mated due pe­riod in mind, if you do reach your due date you are less likely to re­sort to med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion to speed up the on­set of labour think­ing that you are “late” or “over­due”. Rather tell peo­ple that you are due at, for ex­am­ple, the end of Septem­ber, or in Oc­to­ber.

Karin Steyn

Coun­selling psy­chol­o­gist and hyp­no­birthing prac­ti­tioner

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