In birth month clubs, a modern phenomenon in which pregnant strangers convene in online groups based on the month of their due dates, something always happens. After nearly a year of commiserating through posts about baby name quandaries and clueless partners and weird shit that happens to your body, you’ll start to see a smattering of birth announcements, accompanied by photos of scrunchy, red-faced newborns.
It’s exciting! New mums are showered with congrats and well wishes. Then, as the weeks go by, you’ll see more announcements. And more photos. Soon, the buzz wears off. Those left standing (or more likely, whimpering in fetal position) start wondering when it’s their turn. Posts take a turn for the desperate. I’m so jealous. I’m so uncomfortable. WHEN WILL I GIVE BIRTH?!
Now 38 weeks pregnant myself, I’m almost at that point. I’m not racing toward the big moment (because, um, all tiny humans are slightly terrifying), but I am wondering when it’s all going to happen. Are there any scientific predictions at all? Any information I can cling to?
It turns out, as The Boston Globe reported, the most likely birth date is seven days before your due date. Interesting. This number is based on “a huge sample of birth information” put together by Brookings Institute Researcher and WhenToExpect.com co-creator Matt Chingos.
Check out the interactive chart on the site. The calculations include spontaneous deliveries (when a woman goes into labour without any induction interventions) as well as planned C-sections and planned inductions.
There’s a slight caveat. As the The Globe notes: “It’s possible that these procedures, which are commonly performed in the week before the actual due date, account for some of the early births. Nevertheless, other researchers who have screened out planned births and looked just at spontaneous births have found a similar pattern, which suggests that babies still like to show up early, even when they’re uncoaxed.”
The exact date will vary from woman to woman, of course, with many different variables playing a role. According to the report, 1) the older you are, the more likely you are to give birth early, 2) first children typically arrive slightly later than subsequent children, and 3) boys and girls roughly arrive at the same time. If you’re expecting, you can get your own birth date prediction stats at WhenToExpect.com. (I entered my info, and apparently, I have the highest chance of giving birth a week from today! Whoa!)
As for the time you’ll give birth, a 10-year study from City, University of London has found that babies are most likely to be born at 4 AM and the majority of births happen between 1 and 7 AM. These times are for births after spontaneous labors, and would be different for C-sections and planned inductions.
Why the middle of the night? Peter Martin, the lead author of the study, explains that it may have to do with human evolution. He writes: “For animals that live in groups that are mostly active and often dispersed during the day, and come together to rest at night, a night-time onset of labour and birth in the early hours of the morning mean that the mother and newborn baby can expect to receive some protection from predators.”
While these predictions may or not not apply to you as an individual, they give you a bit of fair warning: Get that hospital bag ready earlier than later. Try to nap during the day if you can. And maybe take a break from birth month clubs if they’re stressing you out. Your baby will be here — maybe even sooner than you expect.