Women's views about the timing of birth

10 May 2018

Background: Estimated date of birth (EDB) is used to guide clinical management of women during pregnancy and birth, although its imprecision is recognised. Alternatives to the EDB have been suggested for use with women however their attitudes to timing of birth information have not been examined. Aims: To explore women’s expectations of giving birth on or near their EDB, and their attitudes to alternative estimates for timing of birth. Methods: A survey of pregnant women attending four public hospitals in Sydney, Australia, between July and December 2012. Results: Among 769 surveyed women, 42% expected to birth before their due date, 16% after the due date, 15% within a day or so of the due date, and 27% had no expectations. Nulliparous women were more likely to expect to give birth before their due date. Women in the earlier stages of pregnancy were more likely to have no expectations or to expect to birth before the EDB while women in later pregnancy were more likely to expect birth after their due date. For timing of birth information, only 30% of women preferred an EDB; the remainder favoured other options. Conclusions: Most women understood the EDB is imprecise. The majority of women expressed a preference for timing of birth information in a format other than an EDB. In support of woman-centred care, it may be helpful to ask each woman how she would like to receive estimated timing of birth information.