Pregnancy Week by Week : Week 41 (part 1) - What Happens When You Pass Your Due Date?

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1. What Happens When You Pass Your Due Date?

Your due date has come and gone, and still no baby! You’re not alone—nearly 10% of all babies are born more than 2 weeks late.

A pregnancy is considered overdue (postterm) only when it exceeds 42 weeks or 294 days from the first day of the last menstrual period. (A baby born at 41 weeks, 6 days is not considered overdue, even if it feels like it to you!)

Your doctor can determine if baby is moving around in the uterus and if the amount of amniotic fluid is healthy and normal. If the baby is healthy and active, you’re usually monitored until labor begins on its own.

Tests may be done as reassurance that an overdue baby is fine and can remain in the womb. If signs of fetal stress are found, labor may be induced.

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 the hospital.

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.

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