"If we hope to create a non-violent world where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the begining of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grow fear and alienation or love and trust."
Suzanne Arms

Saturday, November 17, 2012

One of the many benefits of charting your cycles

I know it has been a long time since I have blogged. Lets just say I have been preoccupied this pregnancy . . . with things like contractions, shingles, kids with chicken pox etc. Ya, great fun!! Basically the bottom line is . . . having been pregnant 7 times in 11 yrs, and nursing non-stop for over 12 yrs (tandem non stop for over 10) . . . my body is saying . . . “hello, pay attention to ME!!!” And with all these little ones, I so forget to do that!

It’s all good though, I’m feeling much better now ;0)

Me on my EDD with baby #7 (11-12-12)
 But to the topic at hand. Today is my estimated due date! (EDD) Or wait, maybe I am 12 days post dates?  (I'll get to that later).

 I have had 2 babies come before and 4 after my EDD . . . usually within a week either way. With all but my first I charted my cycles, including taking my temp each morning, so I knew exactly when I ovulated each time (with my first I was only charting fertile fluid, so I could only make a good guess at ovulation, which I suspected to be a bit late).

Besides knowing exactly when you ovulate . . . when to "try" to get pregnant or when to "avoid" if you don't want to get pregnant . . .  there are many other benefits to charting your cycles some of which can be found HERE.

One benefit is that if you are pregnant, you will know exactly when you ovulated, and thus can base your EDD on ovulation (which can help prevent intervention or invasive procedures). When a newly pregnant woman goes in to her midwife or OB one of the first questions asked is “what was the date of your last period?”  Your estimated due date is calculated based on the fact that most women ovulate on day 14 of their cycle (your cycle beginning on the first day of your period). They use this nifty little wheel and calculate when they believe you ovulated/conceived, and when you are due, based on the first day of your last period.

But guess what . . . women are all different (wow really?)  Each cycle is different. Even a woman who normally has very regular cycles can have a funky cycle where ovulation is delayed for one reason or another. So sometimes this ‘educated guess’ on EDD can be way off.

So what is the harm in that? Baby is going to come when they are ready right? Ya, of course they will!! And if we were all laid back and just trusted babies to come when they were ready, then knowing your EDD wouldn’t even really matter period. But in our society today, there are problems that can arise if your EDD is way off.

Early in your pregnancy it can cause unnecessary ultrasound to try to date your pregnancy more accurately (especially if you are unsure of when your period was or if your cycles are especially long or irregular). Some of us like to avoid ultrasound if possible. Or if you have a routine ultrasound in early pregnancy anyway (which some do) you could be told that the baby is not growing right, or that you have a blight ovum or whatever (when in reality you are simply not as far along as previously thought).  And that has caused not only undue stress and sorrow, but even unfortunately, unnecessary D&C of a perfectly viable pregnancy.

Of course many places don’t do early ultrasound and many moms choose not to have one. So for those moms, later in pregnancy it could mean that you are exposed to unnecessary worry or intervention. If you are thought to be past your due date, you may have more monitoring or be induced for ‘post dates’, or if you have a baby born early it could be more premature than expected.

From my own personal experience, for most of my pregnancies, I ovulated between days 12-17. Considering they usually base ovulation on day 14, my due date calculated by the "pregnancy wheel" was only a few days off from my real, accurate due date. However with my 2nd pregnancy, I didn’t ovulate till day 22, which means that my real due date was a full WEEK after what would have been estimated for me. I don’t do early ultrasound, and was planning a homebirth anyway. That baby (my girl) was born at around 41 wks. Had we not had an accurate EDD, we would have thought I was a full week further along than I really was, which would have made the waiting hard for me! And were I giving birth in the hospital, it may have meant that I was induced for going too far past my EDD (it all depends on your Dr, but many don't like to see mom go more than a few days post dates before they start talking induction).

Fast forward to this pregnancy, #7. For this baby I didn’t ovulate till day 26 of my cycle!! Ya, no kidding, it was that late!! It happens and it actually isn't super uncommon. Can you imagine? So if I didn’t chart my cycles, take my temp etc. and know the exact day of conception, then instead of coming on here and writing “hey, todays my EDD” I would likely be bemoaning “woe is me, I am 12 days post dates, when is this baby going to come?”

Lets just say I am pretty happy that God designed our bodies in a way that we have these obvious clues to how things work, so that we know what is going on.  And thankfully He gave us the knowledge to figure it out and use it to our advantage!!

UPDATE - Baby #7 was born 2 days after my EDD based on ovulation.  So a full 2 weeks after the pregnancy wheel would have said was my EDD.  So, again, had I not known when I ovulated I would have thought I had a pretty small (7.2, by far my smallest baby) baby for being born 2 wks after my EDD.  For what it's worth, when my midwife friend checked her out she said that she didn't look early or late, all signs showed she was right on time . . . . EXACTLY!!! 

There is a ton of info online about charting your cycles. But for starters, check out www.tcoyf.com (the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility is an amazing resource and I recommend every woman read it . . . it is actually good for men too).


  1. Wow, Kelley, you look great! This article really has me motivated to start temping regularly and keeping track of my cycle. My DH and I aren't "trying" right now, but would definitely like to add to our family in the future. Thanks for the links and I look forward to reading #7's birth storey!

  2. Thanks! And you know something I didn't even mention… For several of my pregnancies I haven't even needed to take a pregnancy test because I know, by charting, that after certain number days after ovulation I am most definitely pregnant! So no more wondering is my period late or am I pregnant? Because charting you have a much better Idea of that type of stuff.



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