One of the important functions of the first phase of quality prenatal care by an OB/GYN physician or midwife is to calculate the baby’s due date (also called expected date of delivery, or EDD). Providers calculate the due date using the pregnant woman’s last menstrual period.
Some women are more precise on providing this information than others, so sometimes the due date is revised. Most providers consider a normal pregnancy to be 38 to 41 weeks, with the average pregnancy lasting nine months, or 40 weeks.
In addition, throughout the prenatal care, an OB/GYN will perform ultrasounds and take measurements to make sure that the baby is on track for the estimated gestational age.
At each prenatal visit, the doctor will use a measuring tape to record, in centimeters, the distance between the top of the mother’s pubic bone to the top of her stomach. That measurement is typically around the same as the current week of the pregnancy.
Once the baby should have a heartbeat, around 10 weeks, the OB/GYN will do an ultrasound. One purpose of the ultrasound is to make sure there is a heartbeat and that there has not been a miscarriage. Another purpose is to take some ultrasound measurements, which can be used to verify the expected due date.
These measurements and prenatal care are important because they can identify problems at an early time when they may be corrected medically. If the due date is off, the doctor needs to investigate things and take action. The baby may be too big or too small, the baby could have fetal growth restriction, or any of a host of issues that needs treatment. Over the course of my career, I’ve handled many different cases involving birth injuries. Some of them could’ve been avoided with careful, attentive prenatal care.
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Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas.