Some women know the most likely date of conception of their child but, if you don’t have a regular cycle, this might not be the case.
Doctors tend to calculate a due date as 40 weeks from the date of a woman’s last period – but this is likely to be around two weeks earlier than the full 40 weeks’ gestation.
Ultrasound scanning can give a more accurate date as it looks at the size of the baby and the development of the placenta amongst other factors.
Have you got an induction booked?
Usually when you get to around 38 weeks, hospitals will book you in for an induction. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), this may not always be medically necessary unless the baby is showing signs of distress such as the presence of meconium, fluctuating heartbeat, lack of fluid or some other factors.
Safety is always the top priority, of course, but if all is well with your health and your baby’s health then continued monitoring rather than induction may also be an option. The important thing is to be clear about what you want and to make sure that the professionals who are taking care of you are aware of your wishes.
Acupuncture to initiate labour
Certain acupuncture points are thought to initiate labour but please be reassured that they will not cause labour to come on earlier than it naturally should. I will only ever administer this acupuncture treatment in a healthy pregnancy after the medically advised estimated due date.
Please note that using acupuncture in this way results in a slow increase in tone of the uterine muscle which means that the effects of treatments are cumulative and not sudden.
When you book acupuncture for induction, first of all I will place acupuncture needles in specific points in your hands, feet and lower back, and may include massaging of acupuncture points in your shoulders. The needles will be left in for up to 20 minutes per treatment. During this time you might experience mild contractions and feel the baby move. If labour doesn’t start, you can choose to have another treatment in three to five days.
I track my results, and over a 19 year period there have been 5 women who have not gone into spontaneous labour. Each of these women had good reason to be in hospital for their births, and I take great heart from this. It’s hardly a scientific conclusion, but my sense is that acupuncture can’t override the body’s highest or best interest. Unlike synthetic oxytocin which takes over the labour impulse, we can only work to create an atmosphere which is conducive to labour beginning and working effectively.