Monday, November 26, 2012

Does Baby Really "Know" When to be Born?

Photo courtesy of MaceyBuchanan

I have heard and read it a million times on my natural childbirth (NCB) websites and forums that "baby will know when to be born," "baby won't come until he (or she) is good and ready," "your baby wants to choose her (or his) birthday," etc....

This was something I once really believed.... that the baby will be born when ready and not a minute too soon.... but in past 6 months (or more like year, actually), I have been doubting more and more. Here are some lingering questions I have that fill me with doubt....

What about those babies that are born via induction at 41+ weeks, mom who passed all BPPs and NSTs, but placenta shows signs that it was shutting down.... had mom refused induction, what would have been the outcome?

What about babies that are born premature and then spend weeks in a NICU? Or worse, what if baby is born too early to live outside the womb? These are purely anecdotal but I know of two very healthy, low-risk moms who went into preterm labor prior to 30 weeks.... one whose labor was able to be stopped with medical assistance at the hospital but the other whose labor couldn't be stopped and baby lived but had a long NICU stay. (no problems or assistance with conception in either case, in case you're curious)

Yes, due dates can be wrong, so a baby born at 42 weeks might actually only be 40 weeks.... but what if it swings the other way? What if mom waits until 42 weeks and baby is actually 44 weeks?

And finally...

What about the babies that are born at 41+ weeks that are stillborn because the placenta stopped functioning completely.... all signs and tests were good until it was "too late."

According to ACOG, a baby is considered full term from 37-42 weeks.... but can being too close to either end of that range be dangerous? Does it mean all babies born in that range are full-term and ready to be born? Or does it mean most babies? Also, how do we know which "due date" to use? Which is ACOG using according their definition? As many of us moms have experienced our due date based on last menstrual period might differ from our due date given during the first trimester ultrasound.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Please chime in, leave a comment.... any particularly thought provoking comments I will quote and add to this post.


**To be clear, I realize - and always have - that a baby does not make an actual decision to be born. But rather, what I'm questioning is that for a normal, low-risk pregnancy, all the pieces would fall together at the right time and baby would be born at the right time.... baby would be ready, body would be ready, and labor would start.

Update 01/12/2013:
I expanded on this thought looking at evidence for induction vs waiting for spontaneous labor. Click here to read the post.

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