Are you past your due date, mum?
You have been carrying your baby for the past nine months. It’s the D-day for your pregnancy. A long wait will finally end while changing your life in every way possible. So, being anxious is normal as you get closer to the due date.
However, you should also remember that most due dates are a guide to your actual labour day. Only about five per cent of pregnant women give birth on the date they are due.
Most babies arrive between 37 and 41 weeks of pregnancy and usually within a week on either side of their expected due date.
If your baby is past your due date, you should discuss your delivery options with your healthcare professional.
When Is It Considered Past Your Due Date?
Pregnancy usually lasts anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks. A full-term pregnancy goes till 40 weeks.
Usually, pregnancies don’t go past 42 weeks gestation, but if they did, it would be considered ‘late-term.’ While it may seem alarming, it usually isn’t.
So, are you past your due date? It’s common for pregnant women to go beyond their due date. So there’s no need to panic, mum. Here’s a guide to tell you what to do when that happens.
Should You Be Worried About Overdue Pregnancy
There are many different reasons why you might be worried about your pregnancy. Especially if you’re past your due date. Maybe you’ve had some symptoms that made it seem like labour was coming, or you’re unsure if your baby is growing at the right pace.
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Whatever the case, there are many reasons to be concerned and worried about your pregnancy.
But should you be worried? That’s not always an easy question to answer.
Generally, your due date is an estimate—it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. It’s based on how many weeks pregnant you are, based on an average of how long it took for women who conceived around the same time as you to give birth.
Overdue Pregnancy Symptoms
It is important to know the symptoms of overdue pregnancy if you are pregnant. If you’re past your due date, this can help you determine if you should go to the doctor or not. Here are some common symptoms of overdue pregnancy:
- You have been pregnant for more than 42 weeks
- Feeling dizzy and tired
- Baby has not moved for a while
- Frequent urination
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Swelling of the hands, fingers and ankles
- Weight loss or gain (the baby may be taking nutrients from the mum)
Overdue Pregnancy Causes
The causes of “overdue pregnancy” are many and varied. It’s a complicated issue because it’s not always clear precisely what is causing the problem. That said, some common themes exist in the cases we see at [company name].
In the vast majority of our cases, an overdue pregnancy is caused by one or more of these things:
The cervix is the opening between your uterus and vagina. When pregnant, this opening can become soft and weak (incompetent), making it difficult for the baby to pass through it during labour.
A foetus that is larger than average can cause a pregnancy to be overdue.
Foetal size is measured during pregnancy, but it is not always possible to determine the exact size of the foetus at each appointment. The size of the mother’s uterus determines how much room for her baby to grow into, meaning that a large foetus will have more room to grow in than a small foetus.
Babies born beyond 40 weeks gestation are considered late births, which may lead to complications such as low birth weight and premature delivery.
Babies born to older mothers tend to be more prominent in size than those born to younger mothers; therefore, they may take longer to pass through their mother’s pelvis (the space between her legs).
Image source: iStock
Overdue Pregnancy Risks
The risks of an overdue pregnancy are serious. If you’re pregnant and have hit 42 weeks, you may be more at risk for complications during labour.
The risks include:
- Complications with the placenta like preterm separation or placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterine wall)
- Postpartum haemorrhage (heavy bleeding after delivery)
- Prolonged labour (more than 20 hours) and cesarean section (C-section)
Benefits of Baby Being Overdue
There are many benefits to having a baby be overdue. For one, it means that the baby gets all the nutrients it needs from the mother’s womb. The longer a baby stays in the womb, the better prepared it is for life outside of the womb.
Another benefit is that it gives the mother and father more time to prepare for their new little addition to their family. This includes finding out what type of crib they want and setting up this new thing in their home.
Also, if they have other children, they will get more time to adjust to sharing with another child (if they’re not already used to sharing).
How to Avoid Overdue Pregnancy
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While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to avoiding overdue pregnancy, there are a few things that you can do to help ease your mind.
First, ensure that you’re taking prenatal vitamins and other supplements as prescribed by your health care provider. While these won’t necessarily cause you to give birth earlier than expected, they will ensure that your body has the nutrients it needs to support your baby’s growth and development.
Next, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will prevent dehydration and keep your body functioning at its best. If possible, add some lemon or lime juice to your water—the vitamin C will help boost your immune system and keep you healthy overall.
Finally, try not to stress too much about it! It’s normal for pregnant women to worry about when their babies will come out, but if all goes well, then there’s no reason for concern.
Reasons for No Labour Pain After Due Date
There are many reasons why your labour may be delayed.
Some of the most common reasons why no labour pain after the due date include:
- Your body is not ready yet.
- You have a low cervix, meaning the baby is not yet appropriately positioned in your pelvis to allow for adequate dilation.
- The baby is sitting on his or her head, which prevents dilation from happening effectively.
- You have a thick cervical mucus plug that needs to be broken down before you can start pushing effectively.
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5 Medical Procedures For Inducing Labour
If you are way past your due date, the doctor may decide to induce labour. The process will start with examining your cervix to see if it’s ready for labour.
Based on the examination, the doctor will use one of the following ways to induce labour.
- Applying prostaglandin gel: In this method, the medical practitioner applies the gel to the back of your vagina to help soften your cervix and prompt it to open. This is usually enough to bring on labour. You may also need the help of oxytocin to induce contractions.
- Oxytocin drip: This is given through a drip in your arm and is often used in combination with other methods listed. This can only be administered when the water has broken and aims to start or increase contractions.
- Sweeping of the membranes: This method involves where the doctor will gently separate the membranes from the opening of your uterus with their fingers to try and ‘trigger labour.’ It can be an uncomfortable procedure and can cause a small amount of bleeding.
- Artificial rupture of membranes: A small instrument makes a hole in the sac of amniotic fluid around your baby. Your cervix will need to be open a couple of centimetres before the water can be broken by physical intervention. It may become uncomfortable if your cervix is not open very far. Breaking the water may be enough to help start labour. However, sometimes medication such as oxytocin can also be necessary.
- Cervical ripening balloon catheter: A balloon filled with saline and attached to a tube gets pushed into your cervix. This will put pressure on your cervix. The balloon stays in place for 15 hours or until it falls out. Over this time, it should cause your cervix to soften and open.
Past Your Due Date? Here Are Some Overdue Pregnancy Tips
Once you have hit the 40th week, it’s only natural for you to get excited to meet your baby. However, it is equally uncomfortable to move around at this stage.
Here are some strategies you can try:
- Keep yourself busy: You shouldn’t sit idle. Instead, plan something each day, so you are not just sitting at home waiting for something to happen. You can go out and take small walks. However, be near your home and always keep your mobile phone.
- Prepare freezing meals: Once the baby arrives, you will hardly get time for yourself. So you will have to just grab something from the freezer and reheat it rather than cook it.
- Rest as much as possible: You can nap during the day if you find it difficult to sleep at night.
- Take help from close friends and family members: You can inform them beforehand that you will need their help once the baby arrives.
In case of any doubt or fear, it’s always best to have open conversations with your medical provider and partner.
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Updates by Pheona Ilagan
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.