Pregnancies generally last 9 months, yet not all pregnancies are the same. The length of a normal pregnancy can be anything from 37 weeks to 42 weeks.
So you have a five-week period when your baby could arrive at any time and it would be considered normal.
The moment you realize you’re pregnant, begin counting backwards. This is the time to begin to figure out how many weeks your pregnancy will last, and as a result, when you’ll be able to see your child.
Why is it important to know how many weeks pregnancy lasts?
From the doctor’s point of view, it’s necessary to determine the exact time of pregnancy, called the “gestational age.” When the pregnancy comes to an end, the fetus will be ready to be born naturally.
That’s why, upon determining that the due date is approaching, tests will be conducted more often. The mother and baby’s status will be observed, especially their vital signs.
Influence of the pregnancy duration on birth
The length of pregnancy depends on whether it’s a normal, premature, or prolonged birth. If the pregnancy lasts less than 37 weeks, it’s considered “preterm” or premature.
If it passes 42 weeks, it will be a prolonged pregnancy. Both situations are anomalies and should be attended to carefully.
How to calculate the length of a normal pregnancy
The length of pregnancy is counted from the first day of the last period. Obstetricians use this date as a guide to begin the count of 40 weeks. The birth date calculated in this way is considered “likely birth date” but is not totally certain.
Ovulation cycles can be irregular in women and this affects the date of fertilization. However, this is a useful tool to estimate the duration of a pregnancy.
The first way to calculate gestation is through the ultrasound conducted in the first trimester. This method is more precise than using the dates of menstruation.
The Risks of Going Past Due Date
Only about 1 out of every 10 babies is officially overdue, which means that the baby is born after 42 weeks of pregnancy. Recent research has shown that delivery after 40 weeks may come with certain risks.
While they’re rare, the risks of having an overdue baby include:
- The placenta’s ability to provide baby with adequate oxygen and nutrients may be compromised.
- The volume of essential amniotic fluid may decline as baby grows.
- The possibility of fetal distress increases.
- The baby could grow too large to pass safely through the birth canal.