An overdue pregnancy is a pregnancy that continues for more than 42 weeks. Overdue pregnancy is also referred to as post-term or prolonged pregnancy. The cause of overdue pregnancy is still not known. There are cases where it’s because of genetic predisposition. Recurrence of overdue pregnancy is possible to women who had previous overdue pregnancy.
When is a Baby Considered Overdue?
Babies who are born within three to four weeks of the expected due date are considered overdue. There is an increased risk of being dead at birth, or stillborn, if the baby isn't born within that time frame.
Complications rarely happen when a baby is overdue. However, there are certain risks that may increase a little.
Below are the associated risks if a baby is overdue:
- Unexpected problems might take place during labor
- The placenta may not be able to do its job properly
- Development of infection in the womb
Pregnant women who are overdue have less risks. However, if the baby is too big, childbirth could be more difficult.
When a woman is passed her due date, labor is normally induced two weeks after the due date. To do this, hormones and other methods are used to stimulate and start contractions artificially.
How Will You Know that Your Baby is Doing Fine?
If you’re worried about your baby’s condition, there are particular tests that can help your physician or midwife to see whether everything is okay with your baby. These tests include ultrasound scans and non-stress cardiotocography. The ultrasound is used to check the size of the baby as well as the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. On the other hand, non-stress cardiotocography (also called non-stress test) is used to electronically monitor your bay’s heart beat.
Contraction stress test is useful to evaluate how the baby responds to the stress of uterine contractions. This is usually induced with nipple stimulation or Pitocin (an oxytocin injection that causes the uterus to contract). Fine response of the baby to the contractions is an indication of a favorable condition inside the uterus.
Signs of infection will also be checked especially if your water has been leaking. The baby’s “biophysical profile” is also determined by performing certain tests. The biophysical profile includes the baby’s heart rate, tone, movement and amniotic fluid level.
You will also be asked to continue keeping count (kick counts). You should be able to feel at least ten movements every one to two hours.
In most cases of overdue babies, all tests show normal results. This means that, they can continue to be inside your womb until they’re ready to expose themselves. However, if there are any indications of fetal distress, your physician will advise you to undergo induced labor.
When is Induced Labor Performed?
Induced labor is usually performed within the week after the expected due date. Even if there are no signs of complications, the baby needs to be delivered. If there are possible complications, the baby needs to be born as soon as possible.