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What happens if my pregnancy goes overdue?

Find out exactly what happens if your due date comes and goes with no sign of a baby & your pregnancy goes overdue
After 9 months of sickness, bloating, cravings and fatigue you finally get to your much anticipated due date and are ready to meet the little person you've been nurturing, but what if baby has different ideas?

Almost 50% of pregnancies go beyond their due date and if you fall into this category there is no doubt that the extra wait can be incredibly frustrating. So, to get you prepared just in case we explain what happens when you go overdue.

What happens if i'm a few days overdue?

Your due date is more of an approximation than a definite date of arrival, particularly if it's based on a calculation from your last menstrual period rather than an early pregnancy ultrasound.

This is because the calculation used by those in the medical profession assumes a 28 day cycle with conception occurring at the mid way point. If you have a longer cycle and ovulate later then it's possible that your estimated due date is actually a few days early. So, for this reason if you're just a few days past your due date the best approach is often just to wait and see.

Statistically, if you're preparing for the arrival of your first child your pregnancy is slightly more likely to continue past your due date. Similarly women who were overdue with a previous pregnancy are slightly more likely to experience the same this time around.

What happens if i'm a week overdue?

Once you reach 41 weeks and there is still no sign that baby is about to arrive you should book an appointment to see your doctor or midwife.

They'll look over your notes, make sure that your estimated due date appears accurate based on the date of your last period and the length of your 'normal' menstrual cycle, check how your baby is position and will most likely also carry out an internal examination to see whether your cervix has begun to soften in preparation for labour.

You may also be offered a membrane sweep to try and get things started naturally.

It's also possible that your health care provider will raise the possibility of booking in an induction for later in the week. Should you decide that this is a route you want to take you'll be provided with a date to go into hospital.

The choice however is entirely up to you. If you're not sure about having an induction then you can go away, discuss your options with your partner and wait for a few days to see if baby arrives on his or her own.

If you decide not to opt for an induction your health care provider will want to see you every couple of days to monitor baby's progress and check that you are both doing well.

What happens if i'm 2 weeks overdue?

Over 10% of pregnancies reach 42 weeks and these are known as prolonged pregnancies.

If you reach this point with still no sign of labour your doctor is likely to suggest that you have an induction. This is because the placenta can start to deteriorate as you move past your due date and the supply of oxygen and nutrients getting to your baby can begin to deteriorate. The risk of stillbirth, although very small, also starts to increase slightly as you move past the 42 week marker.

Do I have to have an induction?

Ultimately the decision to have an induction is yours alone. It's important that you feel comfortable with the choice you make so discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having an induction with your midwife.

Many women feel ready to give birth before the 42 week mark and are happy to have an induction if labour hasn't started on its own (around 20% of pregnancies are induced). However, if you don't feel your baby is ready to arrive at this point then it's important you voice your concerns.

What should I do while i'm waiting?

If your due date has come and gone it can be difficult not to clock watch but it's a good idea to try and make the most of the extra time you have before baby arrives. Here are some suggestions to keep you busy....
  • Stock up the store cupboard - Make sure your fridge, freezer and cupboards and stocked with easy to prepare food as you'll have little time for cooking in your first few weeks of looking after a newborn.

  • Get plenty of rest - You'll need plenty of energy for labour so even if you're having trouble sleeping, put your feet up, put a film on and relax.

  • Try some natural remedies - If you're anxious for your baby to arrive try some alternative methods that are said to kick start labour naturally.

  • Treat yourself - Spend time with your partner, catch up with friends, take a long bubble bath; make the most of the last few days of your pregnancy with some quality 'me' time. Try to have something planned everyday as this will make the wait go faster, there's nothing that can't be canceled if baby does decide to make an appearance.
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