My first two labors were right on time, so I was completely unprepared for the horror show that was being a week overdue my third time around. Sleep deprived and highly uncomfortable, I obsessed not only about when I would be put out of my very pregnant misery, but also about whether my baby was really OK in there. Was he stressed? Was something wrong? I spoke with my midwife about warning signs and learned that in an overdue pregnancy, the baby movement to look for is pretty important.
But even if you are diligent to do kick counts at home, it can be hard to make an accurate judgement since the bigger your baby gets, the less space he has to move around. At this stage, according to CountingBabyKicks.org, your baby's motions will feel more like rolling and less like kicking. But if you are monitoring her movements at the same time every day for about half an hour, you should still feel 10 movements — even if they feel different than they did the month before.
To do a "kick count," sit with your feet propped up or lie down on your side and count each of your baby's movements. You're looking for at least 10 kicks (or rolls) within a 30-minute timeframe, but you don't have to wait the entire half hour if you hit the number in the first few minutes.
Midwife and Maternity Consultant Kathy Fray affirms the importance of noticing regular fetal movements, especially in the third trimester and, most importantly, she says, at 36 weeks and beyond. "From around 36 weeks gestation onwards, knowing that the baby has regular patterns of movement does become increasingly important," Fray tells Romper. "And if the baby is being unusually quiet, or has a big flurry of movements then goes very quiet, it is important to be assessed on that same day."
If a troublesome lack of movement brings you into your doctor's office, you can expect to undergo a formal assessment. A cardiotocography (CTG) or electronic fetal heart rate monitoring (EFM) typically lasts between 20 to 40 minutes. To monitor your baby's movements, your doctor or midwife will put a belt around your belly and read a printed trace of your baby's heartbeat and any contractions you may be having.
"The printed trace enables the midwife or obstetrician to assess the baby’s heartbeat baseline, variability, accelerations, and decelerations, which are all used to determine if anything is abnormal," Fray explains. "Commonly, as soon as the CTG/EFM trace begins, the little munchkin starts moving and kicking and the check confirms everything is normal and reassuring. But every so often it is picked up that a baby is in trouble who needs rapid delivery to prevent a stillbirth. It is rare, but it does happen."
If you're like most women, you might be feeling anxious as you watch your due date pass you by. But that doesn't mean there is cause for concern about the health of your baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, many women go past their due date simply because it was an estimate in the first place. Having a boy, being obese, and it being your first pregnancy are all additional reasons this might be taking longer than you'd hoped.
I have yet to meet a woman who actually hopes to go past her due date, so if you're feeling desperate and emotional, you should know that you've got valid reasons for it. But I have also yet to hear a woman say that her overdue baby wasn't worth every single extra day: Because once your baby gets here, all those frustrations will have flown out the window.