There are two questions people seem to ask you when you tell them that you are having a baby, or when they notice that your wife is seemingly growing in the tummy area at a rate that suggests something is going on other than too many pies being consumed:
- ‘Oooooh, do you know what you are having?’
- ‘When is he/she due?’
Now, I could go on about the reasons for and against finding out the sex of your baby, but I’m not going to. Maybe I’ll save that for another blog. But this second question – it’s one that has become more of an issue this time around.
During pregnancy number one, we blurted out our estimated due date without a second’s thought, sharing it on Facebook for the whole world to be a part of. This time, however, we have done things a little differently. So…hands up those mums and dads reading this who actually had a child born on their due date (you don’t actually have to put your hands up but brownie points for doing so anyway)? Anyone? Thought not. Well, maybe one or two of you, depending how many people read this. Midwives give you your due date using their pregnancy calculator, going from the end of the mum’s last period and from its size (which is surely all relative to how big its going to end up…), and that seems to be the focal point for couples during pregnancy. You count down the weeks to that date, tell it to your friends, eye it as some kind of bright beacon at the end of the tunnel it takes 40-odd weeks to travel through. But, what’s the point? A full-term pregnancy isn’t classed as 40 weeks. According to the NHS, a mum is considered to be full-term at 37 weeks, while it is normal to give birth anything up to 2 weeks past the 40 week date*.
In my experience, mums, who have had to put up with months and months of discomfort (see blog one), begin getting more and more frustrated as baby delays coming out from his or her warm little cocoon past the 40-week mark. To add to this, the texts and phone calls increase. ‘Anything happened yet?’. ‘Is baby on its way?’. It adds extra pressure to mum to know people are waiting on her, expecting her to give birth soon. And, with all the other things going on at that time, is it a pressure mums really need when they should be trying to stay as calm and relaxed as possible? I’ll answer that one for you – no. No it’s not.
So here’s my plan for the NHS.
- Get rid of Jeremy Hunt. This has nothing to do with what I’ve written so far, just the man irritates me in the same way someone does if they constantly poke you in the ribs with their finger.
- Instead of this ‘due date’, give them a window. Perhaps a four week window, to help deal with the issues mentioned above.
A delivery window would also help expectant parents in other ways, especially those who are experiencing pregnancy for the first time. For example, it could help in the decision-making on maternity and paternity leave. Mums might be encouraged to take their leave no later than 38 weeks, giving them some much-needed rest in the run up to one of the most physically-enduring tasks they will ever undertake (I’ve watched a birth – it looked pretty tough). It would also be of benefit to dads, who currently get two weeks to spend with their partner and new child post-birth (though this is changing, thankfully). If, instead of a due date to work around, employers were given a four-week window during which their employee may begin two weeks’ of leave, that would surely make things easier for both parties. Planning and preparing for an absence from work would become easier and everybody’s stress levels would lessen. This makes sense, right?
So, NHS. Here’s what to do. First, organise a coup to get rid of Hunt. Then, give the Junior Doctors (and nurses, consultants etc) a sensible, fair contract. After that, help lessen the stress and anxiety suffered by so many during pregnancy, men and women, and ditch the due-date.
Jake Rusby | Rusby Media