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Overdue Babies: What to Expect After Your Due Date Has Passed

Pregnancy is calculated as 40 weeks in length from the first day of your last period. Most births fall between the 37th and 42nd week. If your baby is overdue, this means you’ve reached or passed the 42nd week.

What Happens When Your Baby Is Overdue?

  • Your midwife or obstetrician might offer you extra check-ups to keep an eye on the health of you and your baby. Check-ups will involve monitoring your baby’s heart rate and any contractions of your uterus
  • An ultrasound scan may also be used to measure how much amniotic fluid you have, that is the liquid surrounding your baby
  • You may be offered a ‘membrane sweep’ during a vaginal examination. Circular movements are made around your cervix in an attempt to separate your baby’s amniotic sac from your cervix
  • Some women also try other methods to induce labour, such as eating and drinking different foods (e.g. spicy foods), or having sex.

Whilst these methods may work it’s important to speak to your healthcare provider before trying them. Your healthcare provider will be able to determine if it’s safe for you to wait for labour to start or whether labour needs to be induced.

Why Induce An Overdue Baby?

  • After the 38th week, your placenta starts to deteriorate. This means your overdue child may not be receiving enough oxygen
  • Overdue babies can grow too large for a natural delivery
  • Your membranes may have ruptured, but the contractions haven’t started within 24 hours
  • Your amniotic fluid levels are too low
  • Medical complications, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.

Methods Of Induction

  • Vaginal prostaglandin gel, a hormonal substance in the form of a gel is applied by syringe into the vagina close to your cervix. It assists in softening your cervix and stimulates dilation
  • Amniotomy, involves your midwife or other healthcare provider breaking your waters. The amniotic sac is ruptured in a process that is sometimes called an artificial rupture of membranes (ARM)
  • Oxytocin, involves the intravenous administration of the synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin. Naturally produced during pregnancy, oxytocin is known to have an active part during labour. Oxytocin can stimulate uterine contractions and bring on labour.

Please discuss with your healthcare professional regarding your individual situation.