Waiting for Baby: A Study on Women’s Perceptions Of Due Dates and Stress

Beth Lemmel

Abstract


At the start of pregnancy estimated due dates are given to women routinely. Care providers assign due dates to a mother as a measure of the length of time she should expect to be pregnant and to identify when a medical intervention is necessary in the case of preterm or postterm deliveries.  However, research has shown that great variability exists in the length of human gestation, and technological advances in determination of gestational age do little to help predict a baby’s readiness to be born.  The purpose of this study is to investigate the association between due dates, stress in women, and labor inductions.  This study considers how due dates might affect women whose babies are born in the range of dates known as “term”. Women over the age of 18 who were not pregnant at the time of the survey were asked 41 questions to determine demographic information, pregnancy history, situations surrounded their most recent pregnancy and birth, and whether they experienced stress during their pregnancy.  The survey was administered online and subjects were recruited by social media and email.  Data from 1136 women reveals that attitudes toward due dates vary (just 50.68% of women respond that they like having a due date), implying an opportunity for a shift in the way that the medical community views and talks about the estimated due date to women.  Over half of respondents (53.74%) report feeling stress about when the baby would arrive, yet a great majority (86.81%)  never felt that it was unsafe for their baby to remain unborn.  These attitudes show a dichotomy between the intuition of a mother carrying a child and the medical standards to which pregnancy is subject.  The results of the study suggest a need for review of the culture of childbirth as it applies to due dates as well as the pressure placed on women to birth “on time”.

Keywords


Pregnancy, Due Dates, Women's Health, Prenatal Care

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