How To Cope When You're Overdue, According To Experts
In my experience, the last few weeks of pregnancy can be overwhelming, exhausting, and nerve-wracking... especially once you've gone past your baby's due date. Fortunately, for past-due pregnant people everywhere, there are a few things you can (and should) do to help you cope when you're overdue. Step one: don't panic. No, you will not stay pregnant forever.
First, it's important to remember that your baby's due date is an estimate, not an alarm clock, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Mayo Clinic notes that you might be more likely to be overdue if it's your first pregnancy, if you are carrying a boy, or if you are unsure of your due date. In other words, you shouldn't freak out if you are still pregnant when that somewhat arbitrary date comes and goes. You should, however, absolutely check in with your doctor or midwife so they can monitor your baby's and your health, continue prenatal care, and make recommendations for how to proceed, Certified Nurse Midwife Anette Ferrell, MSN, ARNP, CNM told Romper via email.
If your provider gives you the green light, and you decide to wait to go into labor on your own, birth doula and mom Molly Lich Williams recommends taking care of yourself during late pregnancy, remaining as positive as possible, and remembering that you will not be pregnant forever. Above all, it's important to take it easy and try to relax (which is easier said than done, to be sure). For more on these and other tips for dealing past your due date, read on:
See Your Doctor Or Midwife
While it's important to not panic if you go past your due date, it's equally important to continue prenatal care, notes the Mayo Clinic website. This is because the risks to your baby's health and your health increase the longer you remain pregnant. According to the same site, your prenatal care might be more frequent and look different once you've gone past your due date. For example, you can expect your doctor or midwife to be monitoring your baby's heart rate and their level of amniotic fluid.
Get Stuff Done
If you feel up to it, you might take advantage of an extra few days of nesting and preparation for baby's arrival. However, contrary to popular myth, feeling the urge to nest is not necessarily a sign of impending labor, Kaiser OB-GYN Stella Dantas, MD tells BabyCenter. You will not be pregnant forever, even if it feels like it, so this might be a great time to cross off anything left on your to-do list.
Going past due can be scary, for sure, but since panicking won't help your situation (or any situation really). Ferrell advises her patients to get all of the information necessary to feel empowered to make choices. "Most first-time moms will go into labor spontaneously by four days past their due date," Ferrell writes. "Once they go past that date, they should develop a plan with their provider to put their minds at ease."
As Williams told Romper via email, you should definitely try to stay calm during late pregnancy, especially if you go past your due date. One tool that she found helpful was positive self-talk. 'Practicing birth mantras is wonderful when you’re overdue," she says. "Especially things that make you feel empowered by your body, like: 'My body is amazing. My body and my baby have perfect timing.'"
Follow Health Advice
Because health risks to both you and your baby increase past 39 weeks of pregnancy, and then sharply increase when your pregnancy continues past 41 weeks, according to a large review of research published in the journal Facts, Views & Vision in ObGyn, it's important to follow medical advice from your OB-GYN or midwife. They might instruct you to take it easy and come in for regular tests, lab work, or ultrasounds to ensure that both you and your baby are still tolerating pregnancy past their due date.
Take Care Of Yourself
Williams notes that late pregnancy is the perfect time to engage in self-care. "Self-care during late pregnancy is so important, because it sets a tone for how you take care of yourself after the babe is here," she says. "Things will be hectic for a while after the baby is born, so use this time to enjoy just being instead of constantly preparing for the new baby."
According to Ferrell, and contrary to popular belief, baby's movements shouldn't change during late pregnancy. "Pregnant moms should continue to monitor fetal movement as babies don't 'slow down,' unless there is a problem," she says.
Countthekicks.org suggests counting kicks, or monitoring your baby's movements, on a regular basis in your third trimester. If you go post-term you should continue to pay attention to how your baby moves, and let your provider know right away if there are any changes, as these can signal a health issue like low amniotic fluid or that your baby is in distress.
As ready as you are for your pregnancy to be over, Ferrell recommends not trying a DIY induction at home if you are overdue. "Home remedies, such as castor oil and nipple stimulation should not be used as there are some possible risks to the fetus," she says.
Different providers have their own guidelines for when to routinely recommend induction of labor for post-term pregnancies. As Ferrell told Romper via email, "induction of labor helps reduce the incidence of stillbirth, C-section, meconium stained amniotic fluid, admission to the NICU, chrioamnionitis, and other complications."
While getting induced might be disappointing or scary, you should know that a meta-analysis of 19 studies found that getting induced at 41 weeks lowers risk of stillbirth and health problems for your baby, and does not increase your risk of C-section.