Overdue pregnancy, referred to also as post-term or post-date pregnancy, occurs when the pregnancy goes beyond the forty weeks from the very last menstrual period.
If you are pregnant and have passed the expected date for delivery, then it is highly likely that you are feeling anxious and tired like most women. In this article, you’ll find out some of things that might cause overdue pregnancy, as well as what it could mean for your baby and you.
This is referring only to the expected due date for the pregnancy and is not suggesting anything about the baby or mother’s health. You should know that it is perfectly normal for a woman to give birth one or two weeks after or before her due date.
As a matter of fact, a pregnancy is only officially overdue if it continues two weeks past the due date.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR PREGNANCY IS OVERDUE
Your doctor can help to determine your due date, but it could be hard for him or her to get it right if:
- Your periods are usually irregular
- You don’t remember the correct dates of your menstrual cycle or period
- You were using birth control pills before getting pregnant
Some doctors recommend an ultrasound during the first trimester of pregnancy as this is the ideal time to identify the due date. This date that is collected from the first ultrasound will stay the same, even if additional ultrasounds are performed later.
OVERDUE PREGNANCY CAUSES
You are more likely to have a pregnancy that continues past the due date if:
- You are having your first baby.
- The exact date for the beginning of your last period or menstrual cycle is not known.
- Your family has a history of overdue pregnancy.
- You have had one before.
- You are obese.
- You are having a baby boy.
An overdue pregnancy is rarely related to issues with the baby or the placenta.
Even though “overdue” is not referring specifically to any health problem, there are some practitioners who are concerned by the higher risk of women developing problems, especially post maturity. To prevent such problems, doctors will look at the possibility of inducing labor artificially.
If your doctor decides to induce labor, it could become longer or harder. There is really no standard treatment to induce overdue pregnancy, and the policies usually vary between regions and caregivers.
Some caregivers do routine induction for pregnancies at forty, forty-one, or forty-two weeks, while others recommend a selective induction that is based on abnormalities.
Your doctor might recommend a Caesarean section delivery, an operation that is done by cutting open the uterus to remove the baby.
RISKS & TIPS
When you are pregnant, a placenta will grow inside the uterus and it is going to keep your baby alive in your body.
Your baby’s growth can stop or slow down if the placenta gets old. On the other hand, your baby might develop to a very big size if the placenta is doing its normal job. A big baby could make your labor much longer and harder.
There is a much higher chance for your baby to have some form of problem throughout birth and even labor if your pregnancy is more than forty-one weeks. This includes problems such as not getting enough oxygen.
In addition, it is more likely for perinatal mortality to occur when a pregnancy goes over forty-two weeks. There are a number of reasons why this will happen, but the main one is that babies are more likely to develop congenital malformations when they are born after forty-two weeks.
It is worthwhile to point out that the baby would have such malformations for their whole lives, so they won’t be caused just by your overdue pregnancy.
Your baby could have an infection that occurs because the amniotic sac is leaking fluid. Aside from that, the baby could get an infection in the event that the amniotic sac is broken eighteen hours or more prior to the start of labor.
Besides the higher risks of numerous complications, the incidences for stillbirth during pregnancies are increased after forty-two weeks.
You can follow these simple tips to stay sane while you are waiting to give birth to your baby:
- Try to remember that it is normal for a pregnancy to continue past the expected due date.
- Find ways to stay busy. Plan to go on an outing for at least a day, be it to a bookstore or to have lunch or dinner with a friend.
- This will help to take your mind off things, especially if your ankles are swollen, your back is aching, you are struggling with hemorrhoids and heartburn, or you are not sleeping properly due to discomfort and anxiety.
Overdue pregnancy could be risky for you and your baby for several reasons. However, you can rest assure that you won’t be pregnant forever and labor could start at any time.