Pregnancy is a very special phase, not just for the mother to be, but all the other family members too. However, at times, the birth may get delayed due to various factors and surpass the due date. Waiting for labor can be an anxious and stressful phase for the parents as well as other family members.
Due date calculation
Due date is usually calculated based on the last menstrual period and by estimating the growth of the baby through ultrasound. Normally, the length of pregnancy is taken as 40 weeks (the period of 40 weeks starts on the first day of your last menstrual period). Due to fluctuations in menstrual cycles and other factors, many women do not exactly remember the last menstrual period and hence, the birth estimate is not always exact.
Due to various factors, though the due date is estimated at a length of 40 weeks, many women give birth before or after the estimated date, which is known as preterm or post-term delivery.
When exactly is the baby overdue?
The due date is usually 40 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual cycle. Usually, most babies are born in the interval of 38-42 weeks. However, if the birth takes place before 38 weeks, it is termed as preterm delivery. On the other hand, if the baby is not yet born at the end of 42 weeks, the baby is overdue.
Why is the baby overdue?
Each pregnancy is unique in its own way, and hence it is hard to determine the exact cause of delayed delivery. However, there are certain factors which increase the chances of post-term pregnancy. Some of these are:
- If it is the first pregnancy for the mother.
- A history of overdue pregnancy.
- If the mother is obese.
- If the baby is a boy.
- If other women in the family have a history of post-term pregnancy.
- If the mother was born late herself.
- Incorrect calculation of due date.
- Problems related to the placenta or the baby.
Risks associated with post-term pregnancy
According to research, post-term pregnancy is linked to certain health risks in the baby like:
- The baby might be significantly larger at birth, as compared to other deliveries, and hence there is an increased risk of operative normal delivery, C-section, or shoulder dystocia (the shoulder getting stuck behind the pelvic bone).
- Breathing problems in the baby.
- Slowed growth of the baby due to unavailability of space in the womb.
- A drop in the levels of amniotic fluid (responsible for protecting the baby).
- Fetal distress, often characterized by a slowed down heartbeat.
- Increased risk of still birth.
Management of overdue pregnancy
There is nothing to worry about, as post-term pregnancy is quite common and can be managed easily in most cases. If the baby is overdue, the doctor will carefully check the baby’s health, and then decide if it is better to wait or to induce labor. The tests most commonly used to check the baby’s health are:
- Non-stress test: to check the baby’s heart rate using a fetal monitor.
- Measurement of amniotic fluid.
- Ultrasound to check baby’s growth and movement.
- Cervix examination to check if its ready for labor or not.
After a thorough checkup, and if you still have not gone into labor at the end of 42 weeks, the doctor may decide to induce pregnancy. In this case, you might be given a medicine to ripen the cervix and the doctor may break the fluid if the amniotic sac is still intact. Pitocin, a synthetic version of oxytocin is usually given to kickstart the contractions.
Bottom line being, post-term pregnancy is very common and there is nothing to worry about. It is totally fine to wait for a few more days if the baby is healthy and if the doctor says so.
Trusted by tens of thousands of mothers all over the country, we at Cloud-nine are dedicated to providing you with the best treatment and care. At Cloud-nine, our expert team of doctors and specialists are proficient in handling overdue pregnancies. Besides, our well-trained staff and state-of-the-art facilities ensure that you get the utmost comfort and assistance.
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