Nine months is a long time to wait, but like a good soldier, you’ve been patient and followed all the rules. If your almighty due date comes and goes, with no baby in sight, you may be left feeling anxious and exhausted. But you're not the only one this affects — what happens to your baby if you go past your due date?
Romper spoke with Dr. Eva Martin, founder of Elm Tree Medical, who says that a pregnancy that continues past 41 to 42 weeks can be linked to increased health risks for a baby. This is why, she says, women are generally offered an induction of labor to get things started, minimizing any complications for the baby.
According to Penn State Hershey, about 7 percent of babies are born after 42 weeks, and the reasons are unclear. Doctors do know that when your pregnancy lasts past your due date, the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby may decrease, which can put more pressure on the umbilical cord, causing an interference in your baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients. The Mayo Clinic noted that this can also affect your baby's heart rate, which is why many doctors opt for non-stress tests during those later weeks to make sure everything's OK.
Penn State Hershey also suggested that babies who go past their due date are at increased risks of macrosomia, which is when the baby grows too big, according to Mayo Clinic, or meconium aspiration, which is when the baby inhales its own bowel movement through amniotic fluid. If you wait too long, Penn State noted, babies can be born with Dysmaturity Syndrome, causing your baby to be born with long fingernails and hair with a skinny body and wrinkled dry skin due to placental insufficiency. In rarer cases, they can be stillborn.
If you’re past your due date, it’s best to relax and listen to your doctor’s advice. You may be called in more often to check on baby, but unless your little one's in fetal distress, your doctor will probably just keep an eye on you. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, my due date came and went, but my body showed no signs of going into labor. About a week past my due date, my doctor decided to induce labor with pitocin, and late into the night, my precious girl was born. There were signs of her being a post-term baby — she weighed almost 8 pounds, was 23 inches tall, and had also swallowed meconium in utero. Luckily, she was a healthy, happy baby, and while I don’t know why she was late to the party, I’m really glad she made it safely.
Try not to stress. Remember, your due date is merely an estimate and your doctor wants what you want — a safe and healthy delivery and baby.