Ultrasound measurements of the cervix, the passageway at the entrance to the uterus that opens up to make way for a baby during delivery, can reveal whether labor is likely within the next week, according to a new study. The method is safe, and women already get frequent ultrasound scans during pregnancy , said study co-author Dr. Though most women are given an official due date, it is often just a rough estimate.
Only 5 percent of women deliver on their due date, according to American Academy of Pediatrics.
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A healthy pregnancy is, on average, 40 weeks from the last menstrual period, but in reality, most babies come sometime between 37 and 42 weeks gestation. For many women, that five-week window creates a waiting game that can feel unbearable. Women with little paid maternity leave may want to work until the last possible moment they can.
Those whose due date has come and gone may wonder whether they should have labor induced with drugs. And pregnant women who already have other children often scramble to find child care during labor.
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But there haven't been reliable methods to tell a woman exactly when her baby is coming. Cervical checks, in which a doctor manually feels the length and softness of the cervix with his or her fingers, are typically not very reliable, Berghella said. However, studies have shown that women who have a short cervix, less than 1 inch 2. That made researchers wonder whether similar scans could be predictive during the homestretch of pregnancy.
To answer that question, Berghella looked at five studies in which researchers used ultrasounds to measure cervical length of a total of pregnant women. He found that among the women whose cervix was more than 1. By contrast, among the women whose cervixes were less than 0. An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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