Being overdue has its own risks. The placenta may start to deteriorate, and baby may grow larger.
Take Good Care of Yourself
It may be hard to keep a positive
attitude when you’re overdue. But don’t give up yet! Eat healthfully,
and keep up your fluid intake. If you can do so without problems, get
some mild exercise, like walking or swimming. You may feel better.
The following exercise is easy to do, no
matter how big you are! Lie on your left side on the floor or bed.
Elevate your head with a pillow. Bend your knees, and pull your arms
close to your body. While inhaling, reach your right arm over your head
as you fully extend your right leg in front of you, leading with your
heel. Hold for 3 seconds. Exhale as you return to the starting
position. Do 4 times on each side; it helps stretch back muscles.
ACOG does not recommend inducing labor for nonmedical reasons before 39 weeks.
One of the best exercises you can do at
this point is water exercises. You can swim or exercise in the water
without fear of falling or losing your balance. Even just walking back
and forth in the pool can feel good!
Rest and relax now because your
baby will be here soon, and you’ll be very busy. Use the time to get
things ready for baby so you’ll be all set when you both come home from
2. Postterm Pregnancies
Most babies born 2 weeks or more past
their due date are delivered safely. However, carrying a baby longer
than 42 weeks can cause some problems, so tests may be done on baby and
labor may be induced, if necessary.
While baby is growing and developing, it
depends on two important functions performed by the
placenta—respiration and nutrition. When a pregnancy is overdue, the
placenta may fail to provide the respiratory function and essential
nutrients baby needs. A baby may begin to suffer nutritional loss. The
baby is called postmature.
At birth, a
postmature baby may have dry, cracked, peeling, wrinkled skin, long
fingernails and abundant hair. It also has less vernix covering its
body. The baby may have less fat and appear almost malnourished.
Because a postmature infant is in danger
of losing nutritional support from the placenta, it’s important to know
the true dating of your pregnancy. This is another reason why it’s
important to go to all of your prenatal visits.
3. Tests You May Have
Various tests may be done to reassure you
and your doctor your overdue baby is doing OK and can remain in the
womb. In evaluating baby, the doctor looks at various pieces of data.
For example, if you’re having contractions, it’s important to know how
your baby is affected.
Tests are done on you to determine the
health of your baby. One of the first tests is a vaginal exam. Your
doctor will probably do this test every week to see if your cervix has
begun to dilate. You may also be asked to record kick counts. A weekly
ultrasound may be done to determine how big baby is and how much
amniotic fluid is present. It also helps identify problems with the
placenta, which could cause difficulties for baby.
Three other tests are often done when a baby is overdue. They check baby’s well-being inside the womb. They are the nonstress test, the contraction stress test and the biophysical profile. Each is discussed below.
The Nonstress Test (NST)
A nonstress test (NST) is performed in
your doctor’s office or in the labor-and-delivery department of a
hospital. While you’re lying down, a fetal monitor is attached to your
tummy. Every time you feel your baby move, you push a button that makes
a mark on a strip of monitor paper. At the same time, the monitor
records baby’s heartbeat.
When baby moves, its heart rate
usually goes up. The findings from the NST help your healthcare
provider measure how well baby is tolerating life inside the uterus. Your doctor can decide if further action is necessary.