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Taller women have longer pregnancies

Yes, taller women, on average, have longer pregnancies, and shorter women do have shorter pregnancies, on average, according to this study. It found that women under 165cm tall (me!) had pregnancies that were, on average 6-7 days shorter than women of average height and taller women.

I have come across this before, and it can explain some ethnological differences, for example women from the Far East are more likely to have shorter pregnancies than European women. One theory has been that the baby runs out of room and that triggers labour, or that the tighter fit pushes the baby down on the cervix more. More recently there has been research that indicated that a protein is excreted by the baby when its lungs are mature, and this is associated with going into labour, so who knows how that fits in.

Height is just one the factors that affect pregnancy length. Your age makes a difference: older mothers tend to have longer pregnancies. The number of children you’ve had makes a difference: the more babies the closer to the average length of pregnancy you go. But again, only on average, it's not a law of physics. You are more likely to have shorter pregnancies if the women in your family have had shorter pregnancies, or vice versa. There is some evidence to say that the length of your menstrual period has an influence on the length of your pregnancy.

It all boils down to the length of pregnancy being a wide window, rather than an estimated date of birth. A window that perhaps can be tailored by your personal circumstances. Research just last year confirmed that human pregnancies last between 37 and 42 weeks . For some women, what is normal for them is more than 42 weeks. I hear of women who have had all three or four babies at 42-43 weeks. (How you measure those weeks and how that influences things is another post.)

Your due date is an merely an arbitrary point. It is not an accurate predictor or even, as due dates can be viewed sometimes, as a date of expiration. It isn't even the average length of pregnancy - that's 274 days from ovulation for a first timer, or 41 weeks and a day. (269 days past ovulation for other women.)

Vets don’t give animals a ‘due date’ but work on a due window. So just be grateful you’re not a panda bear. Their pregnancy is between 95 and 160 days , giving a window of almost 10 weeks.

So you might like to bare some of this in mind when you’re receiving ten texts a day asking if you’ve had the baby yet, or if your midwife/doctor is suggesting induction/sweep, especially if you are tall.

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