Oh, the first pregnancy! I can’t think of a more exciting time in a woman’s life.
Whenever we experience something new, many questions usually arise.
Such as are first babies usually late or early?
There’s a good reason why, in many languages, pregnancy is called the ‘expectancy period’.
When women are pregnant with their first babies they’re not only full of expectations but also have lots of questions.
Trying to guess when their baby is going to be born, and narrow down the period of time before they start their new family life is something all parents have tried to do.
The estimated due date
When you’re pregnant, your doctor will give you an estimated due date. This is a date 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual cycle. It’s an estimate of when your baby is due to be born.
Due dates are helpful in assessing the correct development of babies and the health and wellbeing of pregnant women.
Usually, babies are born within 2 weeks on either side of this due date.
There is more information in Due Date Calculator- When Is My Baby Due?
How accurate is your due date?
Your due date is just a guess date. In fact, only 3-5% of pregnancies end exactly on that given date.
A baby born between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy is considered a full-term baby. This means babies can be born in any one of those 35 days at the end of pregnancy.
Having such a wide time interval, it’s understandable you’re looking for a more specific time to expect your baby.
You can find out more in Why Only 3-5% of Babies Are Born On Their Due Date?
What week does a first-time mom deliver?
Narrowing down your baby’s arrival date isn’t as easy as it first seems.
If you’ve given birth before, the information from your first baby’s birth date can give you some clues about your next birth. When it’s your first pregnancy, though you have little to go by.
Maybe you could ask your own mother about the duration of her pregnancy with you.
Although there’s a tendency for similar patterns to develop in mothers and daughters, there are also many other factors to take into account, including the many individual differences between women.
Even each pregnancy is unique. It’s not rare, for example, to find a woman who has given birth at 37 weeks, at 39 weeks, and at 41 weeks of pregnancy.
There are many stories and theories about first pregnancy length. One of the best ways of answering questions about this is by looking at statistics in studies carried out on a number of pregnant women.
His findings were very interesting:
- First babies are less likely to be born on their due date than subsequent babies
- First babies are more likely to be late than second or third babies, but he also found firstborns are more likely to be born early compared with their younger siblings
- He also found out on average, a first baby is born later than subsequent babies but not by much time; just by 16 hours.
How often do first babies come early?
As we’re following statistics of previously collected data, maths tend to be pretty accurate. We also have to take into account just those births that have been spontaneously triggered, leaving aside those labors that didn’t start spontaneously.
A term birth happens between 37 and 42 weeks. Babies that come early or before 37 weeks are more likely to be first babies.
According to the data recorded in the National Survey of Family Growth, around 12% of first babies are premature, compared with 10% of other babies.
Does the baby’s sex have anything to do with it?
Are boys usually earlier than girls? Or is it the other way around?
The truth is your baby’s sex has very little to do with the length of pregnancy.
Labor is triggered by two main things: the release of certain markers in the amniotic fluid, and the maturity of the baby’s lungs.
Both actions will send signals to the mother’s brain to let her know everything is ready.
Perhaps lungs mature differently, depending on whether the baby is a girl or a boy?
Not many studies have been done on the subject, but those that have didn’t find any differences based on the baby’s sex.
What week are most first babies born?
If you’re still wondering whether your baby will be born before 40 weeks, or if she’s likely to be late, according to this study the week in which most first babies are born is week 40.
Perhaps these results don’t help you much, but the chances of babies being born in one week or another are simply based on statistics.
If you want to know more about this, check out How To Tell If Baby Will Come Early Or Late?
Which week is best for birth?
Full-term ranges from week 37 to week 42. This is considered the optimal time for babies to be born, when they’re ready.
At any time before 37 weeks, a baby is considered premature.
The consequences of a premature birth can be very mild to severe, depending on how early the baby is born. Most premature babies will need plenty of help from special care nurseries.
You might like to read more in Premature Survival Rates By Week.
When babies are born from 37 weeks onwards, this is because the timing is perfect for them to be in the outside world.
No one knows better than your baby when it’s the right time to be born.
You might have heard the placenta stops working during pregnancy. This is sometimes said to happen after 4o weeks, at the time of your estimated due date, because the placenta is ‘old’.
This isn’t true. The placenta doesn’t get ‘old’; it’s exactly the same age as your baby.
If there isn’t a medical reason why babies need to be born earlier, they should be given the chance to signal when they’re ready for the birth process to begin.
You can read more about this in How Does a Baby Know When To Be Born?
Is it possible never to go into labor?
As a first-time mother, there’s a chance this question has crossed your mind.
When you’re actually at the ‘waiting till baby is born’ point – especially after 40 weeks – you might seriously consider the possibility you might never go into labor.
Some people are told they were induced because their baby didn’t want to come out.
The truth is that, once you’re induced, you’ll never know how much longer your baby would really take to be ready for birth. Would it have been a matter of hours or days?
You might be interested in reading more in Do Babies Really Need To Be Induced To Ensure They Are Born?
Rest assured, every woman will start to feel those contractions and eventually go into labor.
Our bodies know what they’re doing and they won’t suddenly forget what they’ve been working towards during the past 10 moons.