Chet - posted on 08/05/2014
An accurate conception date can be really helpful... or can put a mother's mind at ease for multiple reasons...
Moms sometimes want to know their exact conception date because the baby isn't showing the growth they expect. For example, if you go for an early ultrasound and they can't find a heartbeat. It's possible that the pregnancy isn't progressing and you'll miscarry, or you might have conceived five or six days later than you thought and the baby is fine. Usually they'll do blood tests and a second scan to see which it is, but that takes time. Even with tests or scans that happen later in pregnancy a conception date that's off can mean that bad news isn't necessarily bad news.
An exact conception date can also help to determine the exact date of viability - when the maternity ward will take you and try to save your baby in the event of complications versus when you have to go to the regular hospital and be treated for miscarriage.
The other common reason moms worry about their exact dates is because of interventions during labour and delivery. Many providers won't allow home births too far beyond 40 weeks, or will insist on induction at a certain point. A generation or two ago it was pretty common for moms to go to 42 or even 43 weeks. Now a lot of mothers are hard pressed to be left alone past 41 weeks, and will scramble for any evidence that they should be given another day or two.
Of course, trying to figure out who the father is when there are multiple candidates is another reason! It's far from the only reason though.
Chet - posted on 08/04/2014
It's rarely possible to figure out the exact day you got pregnant. Woman are generally fertile for 5 or 6 days per month. Sperm can live for up to 7 days. Even if you know when you had sex, you can't know when conception took place because it could be several days later.
Calculating conception is really a best guess. Although sperm can live for a week, they are most able to fertilize an egg during the first three days. If you can work out roughly when you ovulated and when you had sex you can usually come up with a pretty good estimate.
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