The Pregnancy (Length) Debate


Just to set the record straight I always thought pregnancy was 9 months. I mean.. that’s what everyone says in movies, that’s the comparison/ ratio people who haven’t been pregnant before expect pregnant women to compare their progress to. That’s just what many of us (or so I thought) saw as “standard.”

Well, when I started this blog I asked the secrets…Questions… Tips… Ideas… Things not everyone tells you about pregnancy and you’re left to find out yourself when you’re knocked up and at the point of no return. That’s when I found out–Or was told, that pregnancy is actually more like 10 months.. Not 9. And that they pretty much don’t tell you that until you’re pregnant. So when you find out you’re with-spawn, thinking you’ve got one month down and 8 more to go… You probably have another–What? 9 months left in actuality?

Ever since then, I’ve pretty much sarcastically referred to pregnancy as a 10 month process–Thinking it was considerably accurate since pregnancy is technically 40 weeks and there’s about 4 weeks in a month so BAM–10 Months.

Well, yesterday I got an interesting comment on my “Sex Natzi” post from an person who wished to remain anonymous who made me start to second guess my helpful secret-givers. Here’s what they said:

“Future Mama, If you read this I would appreciate you acknowledging in the future the point that I am about to make. You have repeatedly said that pregnancy “is actually like 10 months.” Let’s do the math. There are 40 weeks in pregnancy or 280 days. The first two weeks are 100% normal because they start at ovulation before conception. That means you have 266 days from conception to due date. That means that pregnancy is less than 9 months. I think of it as about 8 months because 99% of the people don’t even have any symptoms or think about for the first week or two after conception. I am sure this is the straw that will push you over the edge and will give you the courage to start a family. (I just knocked off 20% of pregnancy for free.) I enjoy reading your blog but would appreciate it if you never mentioned the ‘pregnancy is 10 months’ concept again.”

Closer to 8 months?! Wow! I went from 10-10.5 months to “feels like 8” in a matter of moments, sign me up for pregnancy!!

…Now because it is my blog, I’ve decided that I would bring up the concept again, and not only that, I’d devote a whole topic to it and get YOUR opinion. Unfortunately I don’t know who the commenter is so I didn’t have a way of responding in an email or anything, but hopefully they’re reading now and can let me know more about their theory!

First off, I really wish I knew the real intentions and tone they were in. I’m not sure if it was meant to be funny, or serious, if they’ve had kids before or not, or if the thought of being pregnant for 10 months just scared the poop out of them too so they wanted me to correct it so they would feel better. No no… Perhaps they were just trying to make a case to get me to have a baby RIGHT NOW! (…I’m working on it anonymous!!) Well.. sorta.

Anyway, I first opened the discussion to my Twitter followers and here’s how it went:

Me:If you had to choose would you say pregnancy is closer to 8 or 10 months? I’ve heard both so enlighten me!!” And here were all of my @replies in a matter of minutes…
VictoriaArya: 10 months
mommyisrocknrol: 10!
tmhmom: Pregnancy averages 40 wks. That’s technically closer to 10 months. But that’s forever, so we shorten it to nine.
sharonsnest: 10
donotgiveup: Well from what I’ve experienced it’s about 8 to 8 1/2
puretrance: Closer to 10~!
1HipMama: 10, I’m sorry to say as long as we’re talking “full-term
fentonslee: it depends on a lot of factors, and when you consider it to begin. fertilization, implantation, last menstrual cycle, test+
4boys4now: 10!!!!! DEF NOT 8!!!!
Blacktating: Definitely 10 months. I went to 42 weeks. Even if you give birth at 38 weeks, it’s 10 months. 10 lunar months. 10 10 10 10
psycho_mama: 10 months. But it can also depend on your health and the health of the baby.
Jen2Squared: 10 months! So not 8.
erincharp: Definitely ten but so worth it
SomethingGirl: Well, it’s 9 month names and 40ish weeks. Where’s the controversy?
nevona: 10 months?
chatterboxcgc: Most definitely closer to 10 months. At least for me it was.
jessienuez: i say it’s closer to 10
fentonslee: its closer to 10, even when theyre early. the giddy xpectation and the swollen achy feet make it seem to stretch out.
ciaraj13: typically a pregnancy is 40 wks, but can vary from person to person
MrsMomNYIcon_lock: Depends on if it’s an easy or rough one. Being sick makes it feel like forever (I mean ten mths). LOL
msrib: 10 months. 40 weeks is so not 8 months! that baby would be a preemie 🙁
JDpregnancy: 10 mo. It’s 40 weeks & a month is approx 4 weeks so that makes 10 months.
laurathemum: closer to 10! it’s 40 weeks & approximately 4 weeks per month – 10 months.
SomethingGirl: Well, if there are four weeks in a month, then it’s 10 months. But there ISN’T four weeks. It’s more like 4.3.
TheBabyTree: Definitely 10 months! Unless you are lucky like my sis and always go early!
SweetWifey (several tweets): Full term pregnancy is 40 wks (10 months). If u don’t go into labor naturally, most OBs won’t induce you until at least a week later. I was due Dec. 28th (40 weeks). But I wasnt dilating beyond 1 cm and OB ended up inducing me 4 days later.He came Jan 3rd,which was 6 days past my duedate. So essentially, i was pregnancy for 41 weeks, which is close to 10 1/2 months (lol). So im confused at anyone who would say pregnancy is closer to 8 months?Thats 32 weeks.That would be termed a premature birth,tho the baby would likely be healthy. And the only reason my OB induced my so soon (4 days after my duedate passed) is because she was going out of town. lol. She really preferred to wait, to let me body go into labor naturally. Decreases chance of having to get a c-section.
milyjh75: I went on or around my due date 3 times, then the fourth was 42 w 4 d

Needless to say I’m not alone in my confusion/ assumption. Granted, I did compare 8 months to 10 months, and maybe it is right in the middle, but it still seems as though a lot of people who have had children say it was more like 10 months for them–Or perhaps it just felt like it?

I thought breastfeeding and co-sleeping were heated topics but I had no idea the amount of time you’re pregnant could also be thought as controversial! @SomethingGirl told me some women debate over the issue… Because while some women believe you should wait until the baby is ready to come out naturally, and on it’s own–Others believe that could lead to stillborn births, and other problems–A really big baby for one, less amniotic fluid, and other things that could lead to complications.

So I guess while some people go well past their due date and actually DO wind up being pregnant for 10 months (or more) others believe that’s just dangerous, and should be avoided. I think another reason for confusion is because of the whole inconsistent counting system. I mentally count pregnancy in months but my friends who are pregnant think of it all in weeks.. I don’t know anyone who counts in days. If you average out the 4 weeks in a month–That’s where people get 10 months. Then again if you’re pregnant and counting one month every time you hit 30 to 31 days I guess it would feel/ be more like 9 months. But I think it’s a hard thing to try to count! For one–not everyone is the same and two–What if it’s a Leap Year?!

So what do you think? And Anonymous, if you’re still out there I’d love to know your position on all of this. Do you consider pregnancy 8 months? 9 months? 10 months? Heck… Maybe you can even pull a “I didn’t know” and it’ll feel like no months, once you realize you’ve given birth to your child in the toilet.

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  1. As long as you’re healthy and there is no distress to the baby, you normally go 40 weeks. I have given birth to 5 children. One @ 42 wks, the other two @ 40weeks. My last two children were stillborn at 24.5 weeks and the other one born peacefully at 39.5 weeks.

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter if it’s 8, 9, or 10 as long as the baby is healthy!!! Same thing goes for the “sex” I could care less, just as long as I can deliver a child who’s able to take it’s first breath!


  2. If that is the case then my pregnancies are more like 7 months because my babies are all born early. Yeah me! Can’t wait to get this one over with.

  3. all i know is you are in for a grand ol ride at the end {yes, pain} but besides the pain i’m sure it is the most amazing point in your life. no, no babies here but in the end, all i want is a healthy little boo 🙂 i hope you find out tho! sounds like it just depends on the lady!

  4. Hi! Just wanted to thank you so much for stopping by my blog!!! I also wanted to take a moment to comment on this whole “pregnancy debate”! I am a registered nurse and mother of two small kids (15 months and 4 yrs), so I’m going to speak from both a medical and personal standpoint 🙂 Technically, a pregnancy is 40 weeks, as everyone is stating, but there are ordinarily 4.3 weeks in a month. If you divide 40 by 4.3, that equates to approximately 9.3 months. The way they calculate your due date is to take the first day of your last period and add 7 days (assuming you have regular periods). Conception is “supposed” to occur around the 14th day of your cycle (14 days after you start your period), although it varies greatly! If you are one of those lucky women who have regular periods and can have a pretty good idea of when exactly you ovulated/conceived, you probably will already be considered about a month pregnant by the time you find out–leaving you with only about 8 to go!

    Don’t get me wrong…it feels like it lasts an entire year, but it’s SO worth it and like I mentioned, by the time the average woman realizes she is in fact pregnant, you really only have about 8 months to go. I’ve found that most OB’s will induce you at 39 wks if you haven’t already delivered, although there are those select few out there who insist on making you go a week past your due date. As for my personal experience, I had my son at 39 weeks (I was induced) and I had my daughter at 37 weeks…I actually went into labor at 36 weeks, but they stopped it. My one sister had her little boy at about 38 weeks and my other sister had her son at 33 weeks (pretty early) and she went into pre-term labor with her daughter REALLY early and ended up on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that everyones’ experiences are SO different, but you definitely are not pregnant for 10 months…it just feels that way 🙂

  5. If you assume that a month is 4 weeks, a year would be 48 weeks… I agree then that you fill pregnant for almost a year!! ;o)

  6. I don’t understand… what is wrong with the whole 9 month concept? It’s been working for years. 😉

    I’m with Orange Juice: “WHO CARES how long it REALLY is and every pregnancy and experience is different. “

    Now, Baby Makin’ Machine, it’s time you stopped talking and started BABY MAKING!! Then you can truly say how long pregnancy is – from personal experience! 🙂

  7. Me personally, I’d go with 10 months. I’ve done this 3 times and the 9th month is the last month of pregnancy. To me you actually have the baby in the 10th month. Either way, you feel like an elephant in that last month. And isn’t an elephant a 10 month pregnancy???

  8. If you think about it most people are pregnant for 40 weeks which= 280 days. Divide that by 4 and you get 9.3 months which is what the nurse said. But when you actually find out you are probably 1 month along at least so it would feel more like 8 months but like someone else said the baby isn’t born until the 10 month, so if you find out after 1 month then the baby is born in the 9th month, so VOILA 9 months.

  9. I always thought 9 months as well! Than imagine my surprise with my first youngan when the doc gave me a due date. I did the math, it was actually 10 months, that youngan came after 10 months and 1 week (41 weeks.) My next 3 kids came after 9.25 months (37 weeks.)

    I am not sure of the tone of that person either. But I understand what they are saying. When the doctors created the formula they added an additional 2 weeks because they couldn’t pinpoint the exact time of conception.

    So, if I am considered full term at 37 weeks and I shave off that 2 week safety net, than I was actually pregnant for 8.75 months.

  10. I always thought of it as 9.5 months, but if there aren’t any symptoms for a bit, I could see where the 8.75 comes in. I guess everyone is different….I can’t wait to find out for myself, hopefully soon! Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I’ll definitely be checking this one periodically! I LIKE IT A LOT! 🙂

  11. The person that emailed you assumes that you don’t feel early pregnancy symptoms or exhaustion (which I did, almost instantly…pregnancy wasn’t a breeze for me). Then there are those of us who go over – my son was born at 43 weeks. That, any way you cut it, is 10 months!

  12. Just found your blog and I love it! It is very refreshing and beautiful.
    I have had 7 pregnancies-2 miscarriages and 5 births. It seemed like forever for me. Mind you I am not a very patient lady and I didn’t like being pregnant especially in Arizona in the summer ALL of them. Birth was great and I would do it again for my wonderful children.
    Great post. So glad I found you!
    Hugs, Bobbi Jo

  13. I’m usually the girl who just says “let the baby come when he’s ready”. A healthy baby will come when he’s ready, and you don’t have to worry about timing much. I know people will debate that, but I really believe it is true.

    But, for the purpose of the debate. My baby came about 8 1/2 months after conception. He was born at 38 weeks. So if he went full term, that would have been 9 months. And if you count the two weeks prior to conception (that they count in the 40 week pregnancy) he would have been 9 1/2 months. But, you also have to remember that not every month is 4 weeks long. If that was true, every month would have 28 days. So saying that a pregnancy is 40 weeks, therefore 10 months, is incorrect. I say pregnancy is just about 9 full months long.

  14. This is a very interesting debate. I’ve had four children, all of which were born very close to their due date, and one miscarriage. I definitely counted things by weeks (because that’s how the doctors do it), and since I always found out I was pregnant very early on, I think my thought process is that it’s closer 9 1/2 or 10 months. Any way you look at it, though, I’m one of those people who loved everything about being pregnant, LOL!

  15. It does seem like 10 months…especially if you go a month or two thinking your pregnant, find out your not, then a few weeks later find out you are (if you’re actively trying, I mean).
    Both of my pregnancies were induced meaning I just wouldn’t go into labor. I was two weeks late with my son. In August. It was really hot and I was so tired by then so they induced. But that very morning on the way to the hospital I actually started having real contractions! They didn’t need to induce after all, but after about 20 hours they had to give meds to make the labor happen since it had been 20 hours without much success. With my daughter we induced a week early and things went easy, fast and far less painfully.

  16. I’ve heard 9 months and 1 week is how your due date is guestimated. Of course, that’s just to get you to term and it’s really common to go over by a week or more! So, it can definitely end up feeling like the whole 10 months 🙂

    In my experience, we found out I was pregnant at like 3 weeks on the button because I was having such horrible cramping. I ended up having my son one day before his due date. I knew I was pregnant for SOOOOO long, that I definitely felt like I was pregnant for 10 months 🙂

  17. The cycle I got pregnant on started on January 2. I ovulate normally, which means I ovulated on January 16, which means I conceived within 24 hours of that day. I gave birth on October 11, five days shy of exactly 9 months. So, it looks like 9 months was right on for me.

    However, I prefer to think of pregnancy in weeks, not months, since the typical pregnancy is 40 weeks long and the lengths of months vary. Some months have 30 days, some 31; February has 28 (but on a leap year, it’d have 29!). Too inconsistent. Week-counting is the way to go, for there will always be 7 days in a week!

    When you do get knocked up, get yourself a ticker from Baby-Gaga. Every week, they give you a fun fact about your baby’s growth (serious or funny). Helps it to go by a little faster if you know how many weeks along you are!

  18. Been pregnant 4 times, and 2 were induced 2 weeks early. So… I’m calling it 38 weeks.

    Your blog is too cute for words — just stole your button and will put it in my sidebar.

  19. I have a post all about ovulation, conception and pregnancy

    Pregnancy is 280 days from your LPM. 266 from date of ovulation. Most women don’t ovulate on day 14 of their cycle, so it could be longer or shorter than their EDD (estimated due date). BUT, pregnancy is calculated from your LMP and is 40 weeks from that. So, if you have long cycles, you will DEFINITELY go longer than 40 weeks. Which, makes you end up being overdue (another post about that

    So, technically, since during your pregnancy you will have 2 months with 5 weeks, you will be pregnanct for 9 1/2 months if you have your baby the day you are due.

    I had my daughter a month early, so I was only pregnant 8 1/2 months, but I WISH I could have gone longer. I absolutely loved being pregnant. My hair was thicker, my face was clear, I just didn’t get a baby belly, which I wanted, SOOOOO bad.

    So, check out the posts, and it gives you TONS of information on length of everything.

  20. I have three children-have miscarried twice and believe it to be a Miracle that we can create life. For others who have experience problems concieving-you know what i mean when i say that it is a power that should not ever be taken for granted. I think it is STUPID if someone decides not to have a child based on how long pregnancy is. They are obviously not ready to make the sacrifices that motherhood brings. You have to be willing to give everything you have to someone else. If you aren’t ready to do that-don’t have kids yet. It’s pretty simple. I do have to add-that it is a learning experience and you do grow as you go-you just need the desire to be ready for whatever is asked of you.

  21. Oh, and just to clarify, a year is 52 weeks, so it may seem like a year that you are pregnant, but that’s 3 months you’re not, but just think of it as you have to have the entire time for your baby to grow. Prematurety is nooooo fun. Been there, will NOT do it again.

  22. Girl, you have me SO confused now! Your math calculates right…so I see that. My only question is why do people say 9? I’m assuming that they say 9 because they count months by the 30th or 31st, like you said. BUT, I’m thoroughly confused now! WHAT IS IT?!?!?

  23. I’m sure it’s already been said here. We don’t really know when conception happens. I have two kids my first was born 2 days after my due date and my 2nd was born 20 days after her due date, so I was pregnant for 10 months with her.
    It’s really a guess as to how long pregnancy is. I always say 40+ weeks.

  24. Someone in your Tweet quote said it’s nine months with names and 40 weeks. 40 weeks does not equal 10 months because months are not all (and rarely ever exactly) 4 weeks long. Of course, when someone (like me) goes “over due” the time definitely seems to lengthen disproportionately! But it’s still around 9 months regardless of the number of weeks. (Unless, of course, it’s 4 weeks “overdue”. That would be closer to 10, for sure!)

  25. Well pregnancy is recognized by mid-wifes and doctors alike as being 40 weeks. Which translates closer to 10 months – even though not all months are a full 4 weeks. To say that because you may or may not have any symptoms for the first several weeks still does not change the fact that doctors base your due date on the 40 week deal. All of my babies came early so I didn’t go 40 weeks but it doesn’t change the fact that my due date was the 40 weeks from whenever they determined conception.

    Here is a good link to explain it all.

  26. Well being that I have never been pregnant before I can’t quite answer this question accurately:) But give me a some months and I will give you the exact amount of time that I was pregnant! Sound good lol? And sorta? You need to blog about that one girl!! Come on, come on no pressure or anything!!!

  27. Hahaha…that actually made me laugh a little! FEELS like 8 months? I really wish! Sorry to say, but it’s really close, if not 10 months. Which since I’m pregnant right now, I’m feeling every day of the longevity!

  28. As I have discovered the blogging world, I have come to realize just how many heated debates on parenting there are! It’s crazy. Who would have thought the length of a pregnancy was one of them? I was exactly 40 weeks pregnant. (Right on my due date)

    I was like you with counting the months and not weeks until I actually got pregnant. Doctors measure by weeks, so you tend to use that more. It also makes it seem to go by just a bit faster when you can move through the weeks instead of months. 3 months pregnant doesn’t sound like much, but 12 weeks does. (If that even makes sense.) At least that’s how it felt to me.

  29. I don’t know what anonymous is talking about. Just because you don’t feel symptoms for the first 2-4 weeks because you haven’t missed your period yet, doesn’t mean that you discount this time. I am 30 weeks right now and my due date is Aug 20…that’s 10 weeks from now! I’ve stopped counting by months. Yesterday I was asked how many months I had to go and stalled doing the math. I replied, I guess 2?

    I realize that some babies come early for whatever reason-so some women aren’t pregnant for 10 months. BUT some women carry until 40 weeks or are overdue and go to 42 (at which point maternity care provide starts talking induction). I think the 9-month started because a “term” pregnancy is considered 36/37 weeks (meaning baby is fully grown and can come out w/o complications), but a “full term” pregnancy is considered 40 weeks.

  30. Wow…this is really interesting! I do not have any children so I can’t provide any input. Well, I take that back…I have a daughter, and a son. Little furballs, they are! 😉
    Anyway, I certainly know where to come to get some great information when we decide it’s time to have children! You have a super-duper blog!!!

    Thanks a bunch for paying my blog a visit the other day. It means so much to me, and I certainly hope to see you again soon!


  31. My first one was 42 weeks and because she was an emergency c-section my second one was less than 40 weeks (by 4 days).

    I never got sick with the first one, so her pregnancy flew by, but not with the second one. It doesn’t matter how long it is, you won’t remember anything bad anyway.

  32. I think the whole thing is silly. I don’t have a resource but the whole weeks thing was thought up by a man. Seriously, a man said women are pregnant for 40 weeks. Really an “on time” baby is 38-42 weeks. you aren’t technically late until 42 weeks. its just silly. That’s why we talk about it by weeks and not months because of this discussion. It all just gets confusing. So many women have different cycles. There’s no one right or wrong way to have your baby. Although, I do believe the majority of babies come on their own, when they are ready. A dr doesn’t know when your baby is ready just by your weeks. I’m really annoyed when they induce because “you’re done being pregnant” Do you know if your baby is done? No, just let them cook how long they need to.

    By ovulation due date (I knew with all 4 of mine) I went to 42, 40, and 39. I’m not sure when this one will come. With my first they started talking about inducing but because I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t have shown up. The Non stress tests were fine and my fluid was great. I was tired and hot but I have no right to tell my baby when he needs to come. He told my body just fine and he was 9 lbs and my body did just fine getting him out.

  33. Dear BMM,
    First off THANK YOU for visiting my blog and reading the latest post. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your interest and support. And what a lovely comment you left!

    All I can do to return the favor [as a single, non mommy] is support your right and desire to become a mother as many times as you’d like to conceive.

    Your blog is cute as a button, smart and a great way to gain the encouragement for which you seek. Good job!!

    Oh, I too witnessed a live birth, when a friend had her second son,several years back, she asked me to take stills of the delivery and also to invite other friends of mine to witness the birth in case they had never done so “live and in person.” I thought that was really selfless of her to do. Needless to say I ventured to the delivery room to take on my duties alone. And it was the most beautiful and frightening thing that I witnessed in my life at the time. She made child birth look beautiful and effortless. She hardly made a noise nor broke a sweat. She was sooo ready to deliver all she could think of was to be calm and push. It’s that day about which I think, not the TLC shows although I love them as well, when I daydream of child birth for my future delivery. Although I’m not pregnant, it gives me comfort.

  34. My take: Nine is the average. Most first-time mothers go 9.5 – 10. And some (VERY LUCKY) women go closer to 8.5. Most months actually have a little more than four weeks so at 40 weeks (average, keep in mind) nine is about right. Many women DO go 10, though if they choose not to induce.

  35. this is a super old thread but i wanted to chime in and say that every comment on here is seriously conflating a calendar month with a menstrual cycle. pregnancy is counted in “months” but it is really referring to the average menstrual cycle (or a “monthly”) which is, on average, 28 days. as any pregnant woman will tell you, a pregnancy is dated from the last day of your first menstrual cycle. That is why it is measured in weeks, since your non-pregnant cycle goes through hormonal changes on a weekly basis, culminating in ovulation and then 2 weeks later with menstruation, your pregnant cycle changes your body along a similar pattern (obviously without the ovulation or menstruation). talking about a pregnancy as a length of calendar months, is erroneous and, frankly, irrelevant. you don’t use the months on a calendar to date a pregnancy and neither does the doctor (except to reference when you last had your period); they measure the size of the baby and look the ultrasound to see the extent to which your uterus has changed in the time you have been pregnant. but, given that an average period cycle is 28 days, which is 4 weeks, it seems that everyone in a rather paternalistic and overly simplistic manner has equated that time period with a calendar month, which as we know, varies from 29 to 31 days. soooo all that to say, months pregnant does not equal months on a calendar. 40 weeks equals 10 monthly cycles, which is “10 months” in the vernacular.

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