Document Detail

Standard term of pregnancy.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  15651459     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
What is it? This question arose early this year during a discussion with my doula partner, who lived in Great Britain for 20 years, and one of the midwives I work with, who attends only homebirths, which is very rare in France. The mom whose case we were discussing was late going into labor but not postdated according to the official pregnancy term here in France (37-42 WA--"weeks of amenorrhea"). The midwife expressed her discomfort with waiting. My doula partner and I felt differently, but we knew we were influenced by American and British midwives' practices. I had been shocked the previous December by the position of the chief of the maternity department in a private hospital (a small unit with no residents, in which nurse-midwives attend "normal" births and obstetricians are called in case of complications only). This OB explained to my client and me that if she didn't go into labor naturally, she would be called at 41 + 1 for a vaginal exam to check her cervix and would be induced at 41 + 2. Waiting until 42 weeks requires daily checks, for which he has neither the room nor personnel. He clearly stated that it was a matter of management of time and finances. A month later one of our clients reported the story of her brother and sister-in-law's planned homebirth in London. Their doctors had put a lot of pressure on the mother during her pregnancy with gestational diabetes regarding her length of term. They started to talk about induction. The parents didn't feel comfortable with this, and at that point our client had asked me to refer them to someone who could help them there. We referred them to the National Childbirth Trust and to the sweetest doula we know there. This doula (Liliana Lammers) and her famous doctor partner (Dr. Michel Odent) were a good match. The doctor advised waiting, on the condition that the health of the baby and the amount of fluid be checked daily at the local hospital. The mother had already been waiting several weeks past what was supposed to be her term. Finally, she went naturally into labor at home. The doctor and the doula came and, after some hours of observation, decided it would be wiser for the mother to deliver in the hospital. The doctor and doula were not comfortable with the prolonged prelabor, when, at nearly 44 weeks, the health of the baby and the amount of fluid had not been checked for five days. The mother finally had a vaginal birth without drugs at the hospital. After hearing this story, I suggested it would be interesting to collect the official lengths of term and the different routines in other countries as a learning tool and in order to give us something other than French protocol on which to base our practice. So I sent the question to every midwife for whom I had an e-mail address from the last Midwifery Today conference in Paris. Beyond this motivation was my own curiosity regarding the relationship between the official term in each country and its uses and routines. The most significant (because the most unique) answer, in my opinion, is from The Netherlands, where physiology is a priority.
Viviane Lemaigre Dubreuil
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Midwifery today with international midwife     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1551-8892     ISO Abbreviation:  Midwifery Today Int Midwife     Publication Date:  2004  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2005-01-17     Completed Date:  2005-04-19     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  100888783     Medline TA:  Midwifery Today Int Midwife     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  51-3     Citation Subset:  N    
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MeSH Terms
Great Britain
Infant, Newborn
International Cooperation
Midwifery / standards*
Natural Childbirth / nursing*,  standards
Postnatal Care / standards*
Pregnancy, Prolonged*
Term Birth*
United States

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