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For babies with congenital anomalies who must be delivered in a hospital, getting a better estimate of the due date could ensure safer delivery.
And hospitals could make arrangements to have more staff on hand if they know lots of deliveries are imminent in the next week, Berghella said.
Sometimes, women have a medical condition that necessitates delivering their baby soon, but not necessarily immediately.
In those instances, doctors may take a wait-and-see approach to see if a woman is going to deliver soon, but may opt to induce if they feel labor is not imminent, he said.
27) in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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.
A simple ultrasound could help with this decision, new research suggests.
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.
However, transvaginal ultrasounds reveal the shape of the entire cervix, allowing doctors to see if the process has started, Berghella said.