If your baby does not arrive by week 42 of pregnancy, you will be considered overdue. Gemma Gallagher looks at what happens when you’re overdue.
Although your due date is calculated at 40 weeks, most first-time mothers give birth closer to 41 weeks.
Pregnant women vary in their attitudes to going overdue.
First-time mothers are often desperate to finally meet their baby and any day after 40 weeks is sheer torture.
With second and subsequent pregnancies, mothers frequently adopt the view ‘easier in than out’ and are quite happy to have a week extra putting their feet up before the challenges of looking after a newborn start.
Officially you’re term from 37 weeks and most babies are born by 42 weeks.
That said, most doctors agree that it is in the baby’s best interests to stay inside for as close to 40 weeks as possible unless there is a medical reason not to.
After 40 weeks
Once you pass 40 weeks, however, the various risks begin to increase and it’s common practice to be reviewed regularly and sometimes even scanned.
It is standard practice to let women go up to 42 weeks but after that you will likely be encouraged to have an induction, as the risks of continuing the pregnancy greatly outweigh the risks of induction.
When you are overdue it is particularly important to monitor your baby’s movements, and if you have any concerns you should see your midwife or doctor immediately.
Natural for bringing on labour – fact or fiction?
Most women who go overdue are usually keen to know if there are any natural techniques to kick-start labour. So what works and what doesn’t?
Curry, like castor oil, is quite a good laxative, and clearing out the bowels can be a trigger for labour to start. However, the curry needs to be spicy enough to give you diarrhoea, which many women simply cant face at 40 weeks pregnant.
Was this dreamt up by sex-starved men or based on fact? Sadly, a mid-afternoon quickie will probably not be enough to get labour going. Although sperm does contain prostaglandins, which in high doses soften the cervix, you would need huge amounts of semen to produce anywhere near the same effect as the vaginal gel used in induction!
Raspberry leaf tea, evening primrose oil or pineapple
These are thought to help soften the cervix and lead to more coordinated contractions. However, recent studies have failed to show any significant benefit, both in terms of when labour starts and how quickly it progresses.
Keeping upright and active can help the baby’s head down in to a good position for labour. Don’t overdo it, but becoming a couch potato will probably not help get labour started.
Probably the best thing you can do is not get frustrated that labour doesn’t seem to be starting. Adopt the view that the baby will come when it’s ready and try not to stress about it.
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