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There are several ways for your doctor or midwife to figure out how long
you have been pregnant. They help you predict when you are
likely to have your baby. This is called your due date. The due date is only an estimate of
when your baby will be born. Most women deliver within 14 days of their due
To find out how long you've been pregnant and when your baby is due, your doctor or midwife may:
most common way to calculate your due date is to start with the first day of
your last menstrual period (LMP). Add 7 days, and then count backward 3
months. For example, if your last period started on March 20, you would add 7 days to
get March 27. Then subtract 3 months to get a due date of December
Another way to estimate your due date is to add 40 weeks to
the first day of your last period.
Another way to find out your due date is by the size of your uterus. When you are about 12 weeks pregnant, your doctor or midwife can feel the top of the
uterus (fundus) above your pelvis. After about 18 weeks, the
distance between the pubic bone and the fundus (in centimeters) is likely to be
about the same as the number of weeks since your last period. At 20 weeks, the fundus will
be about as high as your belly button.
The size of the uterus is sometimes used to get a rough idea of how far
along a pregnancy is. But it's not an accurate way to predict the
gestational age of the growing baby (fetus). That's because there are many things that
can make the fundus seem higher or lower than it really is. For example, the fetus may be in an odd position. Or you may have a
If the first two methods can't predict your due date, you may get an ultrasound. Ultrasound tests work well to find out how long you have been pregnant, especially if they are done before 20
weeks of pregnancy.footnote 2 Some doctors always do an ultrasound
in early pregnancy.
During an ultrasound test, a small
device called a transducer is moved back and forth over your belly. The transducer sends out
sound waves that bounce off the fetus. The sound waves are converted by a
computer into a picture of the fetus. The picture is displayed on a TV screen.
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Lund KJ, McManaman J (2008). Normal labor, delivery, newborn care, and puerperium. In RS Gibbs et al., eds., Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 23–42. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2007). Antepartum care. In Guidelines for Perinatal Care, 6th ed., pp. 83–137. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofMay 30, 2016
Current as of:
May 30, 2016
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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