No matter how intimidating labor and delivery can seem, no mom-to-be wants to go past her due date. Not only can the final weeks feel heavy and uncomfortable, but many moms-to-be have heard horror stories about long and difficult labors or C-sections related to being overdue. To calm your fears and help you have a happy and healthy labor, there are some things your OB-GYN wants you to know when you're past your due date .
Your doctor probably gave you a due date that was 40 weeks from your last period. But, as Ohio OB-GYN Dr. Andre T. Harris, Sr. tells Romper, "your due date is an estimate, not an eviction notice." According to WebMD, most babies arrive between weeks 38 and 42 of pregnancy, and any baby who hasn't arrived by week 42 is considered late, or post-term. (WebMD also noted that approximately one in every 10 babies born is post-term.) Although no one is sure why some women go past their due date, the site noted that you may be more likely to deliver late if this is your first pregnancy, have previously had a post-term delivery, have women in your family who've delivered past their due date, or were born late yourself.
If you're currently past your due date, or are worried about going post-term, here are some things your OB-GYN wants you to know.
1. Know When Post-Term Begins
You may feel as though you're about to burst the day you hit 40 weeks, but according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) a post-term pregnancy is one that lasts 42 weeks or longer. Because the most common cause of post-term pregnancy is an error in calculating the due date, many doctors feel it is best to wait until 42 weeks for the body to start labor on its own.
The ACOG warned that after 42 weeks, the placenta may not work as well as it did earlier in pregnancy, so doctors may consider inducing labor. Harris notes that successful induction has a lot to do with how ripe the cervix is determined by the Bishop score. Baby Center explained that the Bishop score is based on the following factors:
- how dilated your cervix is (the more open the better)
- how short your cervix is (the shorter the better)
- how far down in your pelvis your baby's head or bottom is (the lower down the better)
- the consistency of your cervix, whether it is firm or soft (the softer the better)
- the position of your cervix, whether pointing backwards or pointing forwards (pointing forwards is better)
2. Keep Track Of Fetal Movements
Harris recommends that moms keep track of the number of fetal movements during pregnancy, but especially if you're overdue. "Even though in the last four weeks the baby's movement will slow down, you should still be able to get 10 movements in two hours," he says.
There are apps you can download to help you count kicks so that you can determine what is normal for your baby. If you notice a decrease in kicks, contact your doctor right away.
3. Beware Of Trying To Induce Your Own Labor
Ask your mom, grandma, or neighbor, and each will give you a different method to induce labor. Harris warns, however, that there is nothing solid or consistent that will ensure labor. In fact, some methods can be outright dangerous. "I tell patients to stay away from taking any type of medication to induce labor, i.e. castor oil," he says. The only tip Harris recommends is to be patient.
4. Going Post-Term Doesn't Necessarily Mean A C-Section
Just because you're overdue, it doesn't mean that you will definitely need a C-section. Harris explains that the idea behind this belief is that post-term babies may not fit through the pelvis. Although this is a possibility, this can be the case for babies at any gestational age.
5. Trust Your OB-GYN
Although each doctor can vary slightly when it comes to dealing with post-term pregnancy, most will make recommendations on a case-by-case basis. Inductions and C-sections may not be your ideal birth plan, but if you're baby is at risk, you should trust that your doctor is recommending what is in your and your baby's best interest. Emergency scenarios such as a nuchal cord or meconium staining can mean veering away from your desired birth plan.