DATING YOUR PREGNANCY: THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCURATE DATING

CONTENT

-INTRODUCTION

-WHAT DOES THE EDD SIGNIFY?

-WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EDD OR THE DUE DATE?

 

INTRODUCTION

 At a woman’s first ANC visit, among the first things she will be informed, is the age of her pregnancy which is referred to as the estimated gestational age (EGA) and her anticipated “due date” which is also referred to as the expected date of delivery (EDD). Yet, with only about 4% of all babies delivered on their EDD, what therefore is the importance of dating pregnancy and why do we calculate the EDD?

A quick look at what many expectant mothers, especially first timers think about their EDD reveals that many women assume that their EDD or due date, signify their baby’s anticipated date of birth, to which a lot of social and cultural importance is attached, especially here in Africa. To some others, the “due date” signifies the last day a baby should spend in the womb beyond which the baby is exposed to significant dangers and possible risk of sudden death. Hence, it is not unusual to see such women becoming anxious once they remain undelivered on or close to their due date, many of whom keep repeating ultrasound scans in a bid to reassure themselves of both the safety of their babies and the accuracy of their “due date”, unfortunately leaving them more confused as the “due date” keeps changing with different ultrasound scans.

 

WHAT DOES THE EDD SIGNIFY?

Basically, the EDD as calculated by health workers corresponds to the 40th week of pregnancy. It is believed to be the average length of a normal pregnancy. But in reality, the delivery of a normal pregnancy can occur anytime at ‘term”. The term is the period between the 37th completed week (259 days) of pregnancy to the 42nd week of pregnancy (294 days), by which all babies are expected to have attained full maturity. Hence, the EDD doesn’t signify the exact date of delivery of a baby contrary to the believe of many women, rather it corresponds to the 40th completed week of pregnancy. 

 

WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE “DUE DATE” OR THE EDD?

1.  The early establishment of the “due date” or the EDD in all pregnancies remains the benchmark on which important decisions at the end of the pregnancy regarding the timing of delivery of both normal and high-risk pregnancies are made. With acccurate dating, health workers are also able to properly time and prepare for the delivery of many elective cases, prevent and aggresively manage preterm delivery and prevent prolonged pregnancy. This is because significant complications including an increased risk of death to the unborn baby is associated with both preterm delivery and prolonged pregnancy compared to babies born at term.

2.  The accurate dating of pregnancy also forms the yard stick by which the growth of an unborn baby in any pregnancy can be compared against an expected norm. Therefore, babies with growth restriction (babies who are significantly smaller than their peers for the same age of pregnancy) and those who are significantly bigger than their peers for the same age of pregnancy, are easily identified by plotting their growth pattern against that expected for the age of their pregnancy and subsequently managed appropriately before severe complications and death occur within the womb.

3.  Finally accurate dating allows health practitioners to carry out the right thing at the right time in any specific pregnancy. For example, screening for congenital abnormalities of an unborn baby can only be done at specific age of the pregnancy which is only possible by accurately dating pregnancy. Other similar high risk pregnancies that require accurate dating for proper management and specific interventions include pregnancies complicated by Gestational diabetes mellitus, Rhesus iso-immunization and multiple pregnancies.

Therefore other than the EDD being a tool to inform the expectant mother of the period her baby is likely to be born, which as mentioned above is anytime at term, dating in pregnancy and the calculation of the EDD is imperative in the successful management of any expectant mother as the life of a baby and that of the mother may depend on its accuracy. For more information and enquiries on your pregnancy date please CHAT WITH OUR CNSULTANTS.

 

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