I'm on maternity leave right now from teaching classes, but I haven't told anyone my due date. Why?
I don't think a pregnant woman needs to pin down an exact date and announce it to everyone who asks if she doesn't want to.
The main reason is because women are under enough pressure already to look/feel a certain way, to worry (unnecessarily) about the baby's size, or “get that baby out already.”
The other reason is because due dates don't matter that much, and I'd like to take the focus off of the due date as much as I can. We're talking merely a day somewhere in the middle of a five-week period of time that would be perfectly normal and natural for a woman to birth her baby. I have encountered at least three women in as many weeks who were having healthy pregnancies, but felt strong pressure to artificially induce labor from the medical establishment--corporations wanting to choose their babies' birthdays!
It sounds ridiculous when I put it that way, but that is what it boils down to.
Certainly, there are a few medical reasons to induce labor for the safety of the mother and baby, but I am relieved that my midwife isn't concocting risk factors in order to put an “expiration date” on my forehead.
A woman may already be feeling many physical discomforts, especially in late pregnancy, and hearing from her doctor, her neighbors, and co-workers that it's “probably time to have that baby” can certainly add to the pressure.
There is freedom in knowing you weren't being told what to do out of fear or coercion.
All couples have the power to make informed decisions about their birth through education about risks and benefits. The confidence of knowing that the best decision was made by weighing all possible options adds joy to the birthing and postpartum experience.
Perhaps one day our culture and our medical professionals will be informed enough—and respectful enough—of birth that due dates will not cause such undue pressure.
So, whether a pregnant woman decides to keep her due date shrouded in secrecy or shout it from the rooftops, may she do it out of the freedom to take ownership of her motherhood.
Marcia prepares new parents through pregnancy, into babyhood. She also supports parenthood journeys in other ways; She is an artist, seamstress, Lemongrass Spa consultant, and CAPPA certified childbirth educator. Marcia lives in Colorado with her husband, four children, and their dog, Calamity Jane.