If your due date has come and gone and the baby seems in no hurry to arrive, you are likely getting antsy; probably fed up with being pregnant and wanting to get it all over with already. We look at the whys and wherefores of an overdue pregnancy.
What problems could an overdue baby mean?
When a woman is past her due date, the baby’s size continues to increase, which could mean delivery complications. Also as time passes, the amitotic fluid levels could drop and baby’s nutrition could be compromised if there is any pressure on the umbilical cord. There is also the increased risk of meconium poisoning (baby swallowing its own fecal matter), the longer past the due date it is.
Why is baby late?
Firstly ascertain that baby is in fact late – are you sure of your LMP (the last monthly period) this is the predictor of the due date for delivery? So double check this date.
There are certain cases where an overdue pregnancy is more likely. Obese women are more likely to have later deliveries. Women who have a family history of overdue pregnancies may also be late.
For first pregnancies and when it’s a boy, the delivery is more likely to be overdue.
Sometimes it could be problems with the placenta or some abnormality with the baby that could cause the baby to be late.
What happens after the due date is past?
The health care provider will be monitoring a pregnancy a lot more closely once the due date is past. Vital signs such as blood pressure will be closely monitored for any signs of preeclampsia. The doctor will also check for any signs of the cervix effacing in preparation for the baby. The baby’s heart rate and movement as well as the amount of amniotic fluid present will also be closely monitored.
What are your options?
For a week or so after the due date, the wait and watch doctrine may be adopted if there is no sign of any complication. However if there is any sign of fetal or maternal distress, the doctor will suggest induction of labor or may even consider a surgical delivery (cesarean section).
So make sure you are in constant touch with the health care provider, otherwise there is little for you to do except wait. Make sure that you are as relaxed as possible and don’t try any of the so called “natural” methods of inducing labor that you may find here and there; they could do more harm than good.