Your due date has come and gone and you feel like you are ready to pop. But according to the doctor, you aren't even dilating yet. Every mom who has gone overdue wants to know how long after your due date do they induce.
A pregnancy is considered "full term" at about 40 weeks gestation, measuring from the date of your last menstrual period. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a pregnancy that continues for longer than 42 weeks is called a post-term, prolonged, or overdue pregnancy. Typically, being about one week late is not associated with additional risk for the mother or baby. But after that point, the risks do increase. Because of this, most doctors will consider inducing labor no later than 42 weeks if your body is starting the process on its own.
The Mayo Clinic warned that the longer your pregnancy continues, the larger your baby is likely to be which might lead to a complicated vaginal delivery or even a C-section. The aging placenta may not suitably nourish your baby, and babies who are overdue are at risk of passing their first stool inside the womb. When this happens your baby may inhale their fecal waste, known as meconium, during childbirth, which can cause breathing problems or a lung infection after birth.
When and if an induction will be considered depends on many factors, including your health, your baby's health, and your doctor's discretion. OB-GYN Julie Lo, M.D., wrote on the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center's website that some doctor's will unnecessarily induce at or before 40 weeks. Many times expecting moms ask to be induced in order to deliver on a certain day, get a specific doctor, or avoid a holiday birth. Lo feels that for moms and babies who are healthy and have no medical reason to deliver, letting the body do its own thing is best for everyone – at least until you've completed 41 weeks.
Lo noted that your doctor will look at the following before considering an induction:
- A previous delivery. Inductions are more successful in women who have had a vaginal delivery already.
- A favorable cervical exam. A softened and dilating cervix may respond better to induction.
- A reasonable date. Gestational age and your doctor's availability will be considered when scheduling an induction.
According to Lo, there's no way of knowing the exact date of your baby's conception, unless you've conceived via IVF. Even if you've only had sex once, it's possible for the egg and sperm to sit in the body for up to a week before connecting, so you may actually not be completely full term on your 40th week. This is one of the reasons why it's important to attend you weekly appointments. Your doctor will monitor your progress, check on your baby, and make an informed decision on whether to wait it out a little longer or induce.