According to Naegele’s rule, pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks (or 280 days) from the last menstrual cycle. Babies born before 37 weeks are considered premature.

However, 40 weeks is just an average value, which means that many babies are born before and after this time. In fact, only 4-5% of babies are born “on time”. According to some studies, the birth of a second baby is more likely to be closer to the predicted due date, whereas the first baby is often born later or earlier than 40 weeks.

Many external and internal factors impact your baby’s actual birth date. For instance, increased stress, excessive physical exertion or agitation can lead to the release of oxytocin, resulting in the onset of uterine contractions. Similarly, eating certain foods such as spicy foods can enhance peristalsis (a wave-like contraction of the walls of the esophagus, stomach, intestines, etc.) and also lead to uterine contractions (though this doesn’t mean that you should attempt to use food to induce labor).

Therefore, starting from weeks 36-37, you should get prepared and have your plan in place for your trip to the hospital. Contractions can begin at any time, so have your hospital bag packed just in case.