Overdue Labour: What Happens If Your Baby Is Late

From | Mar 29 | 2 minutes read

You are almost there and excited to welcome your baby into the world. But the due date has passed and you begin to wonder what’s happening. So, what is going on? You have been given a due date by your healthcare provider. But in reality, it is just a simple calculation of when your baby will reach 40 weeks. It is not an estimate of when your baby is going to arrive in this world. It is normal to go into labour between 37 weeks and 40 weeks. It is equally normal if the due date has passed and you have not gone into labour yet. Only if you are overdue by two weeks, can it be officially termed as post-term pregnancy.

If you are at 41 weeks

You have reached 41 weeks of pregnancy and you are yet to go into labour. Your healthcare provider may suggest inducing labour naturally by offering you a membrane sweep. This process includes a thorough vaginal check-up wherein the cervix is stimulated to produce hormones that may possibly trigger the labour. If the membrane sweep cannot start your labour naturally, then it will have to be induced through IV fluids.

Your doctor will discuss this with you and your family. You have the option of waiting until you reach 42 weeks, but you have to be monitored ever 3-4 days. Your healthcare provider will check if you and your baby in the womb are healthy through ultrasounds, examine your baby’s movements and heartbeat. If your doctor feels that your baby’s health is not as per expectation, he may insist on inducing labour.

If you are over 42 weeks

Majority of women go into labour spontaneously around 42 weeks of their pregnancy. If your pregnancy progresses beyond 42 weeks, your baby may be at risk of a number of health problems.

  • The size of your baby may be larger than normal which is known as foetal macrosomia. This may lead to operative vaginal delivery or a C-section or shoulder dystocia where baby’s shoulder may get stuck in your pelvic bone.
  • Baby may have post-maturity syndrome that basically is a decrease in the fat beneath the skin.
  • Vernix caseosa is a condition where there is a deficiency of oily covering baby.
  • If baby has lanugo which is marked by reduced soft, velvety hair.
  • In case of meconium, there is a blemish from the amniotic fluid, skin and umbilical cord by your baby’s first bowel motions.
  • Lastly, oligohydramnios or low amniotic fluid in the womb may impact your baby’s heart rate leading to a compression of the umbilical cord during contractions.

In the rarest of cases, post 42 weeks of pregnancy, babies have passed away in the mother’s womb or shortly after birth due to foetal distress. However, you should follow the guidelines as directed by your doctor, be it induced labour or the wait and watch approach. You are in the homestretch. So, enjoy the last few days of your pregnancy as best as you can.


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