- Women's Health
Having a baby - When You're Past Your Due Date
What to expect when you are expecting
Having a baby is like being born again. The process of building a baby inside your womb is as complicated as it is simple. The hormonal changes can leave you wondering just what on earth is wrong with you. Still it can be quite stressful when after you have completed your entire term and reach the due date, only to find that the baby is not ready to come out yet!
In about 5% of cases the pregnant woman does not deliver by her due date leading to what is termed as "Post-term pregnancy". It has also be called prolonged or post-date pregnancy. A term is usually between 38 to 42 weeks. If the baby is not born by the end of the 42nd week it becomes a post term pregnancy.
DO NOT PANIC!
While it can be quite uncomfortable for the expecting mother to hold on beyond the due date of the delivery, it is not a problem that needs to cause panic. As long as the baby movements are normal and not reduced, it is quite likely that nothing major is wrong and that you have just miscalculated the due date.
How is the Due Date calculated?
The Due Date is calculated from the first day of your last period to 40 weeks thereafter. Since not all of us remember the exact date of the menses it involves some measure of guesswork, making the exact date difficult to pin point. The size of the womb as determined in early pregnancy sonograms also contribute to the final calculation of the Due Date. Very often by the second trimester the gynecologist is able to predict the date of deliver fairly accurately.
Signs to watch out for
The priority in cases of Post Term pregnancy is to check the health of the baby. The fetus must not be distressed in any way. There are many ways to determine this. An electronic fetal monitor can be used to measure the heartbeat of the baby. This can be repeated once a week. The doctor can also begin using sonograms every week to check on the amniotic fluid around the fetus. The Ultrasound is quite safe and you need not have concerns of this affecting the health of the baby.
What if its one week past the Due Date?
The doctors usually take this as the "wait and watch" period. Since the Dute Date is often miscalculated based on the memory of the mother-to-be it is not very unusual for the baby to arrive one week early or late. As long as all the vital signs of both mother and fetus are fine the doctors prefer to let nature take its own course in this matter.
Two weeks past the Due Date
In most cases once it is two weeks past the delivery date the doctors will induce labor to avoid future complications. These complications could include the baby growing too large to be born through the vaginal passage, or having less oxygen leading to brain damage in the womb. Remember it is not necessary that this will happen and the doctor will monitor the health of the fetus before inducing labor.
The intravenous drug Oxytocin is used to induce labor pains in pregnant women. The medicine takes about an hour or two to take effect. Another way to induce labor is to break the water bag. This involves rupturing the membrane that holds the amniotic fluid and baby. The doctor can use which ever method he feels would make more sense. At times despite doing both the expecting mother does not feel any labor contractions. In these cases the doctor will monitor the fetus to see if it can deal with the stress of birthing. If not, there is a good chance that the doctor may operate and deliver the baby with a Cesarean Section. That however is a last remedy. in most cases the use of Oxytocin will enable the labor pains to begin, ensuring normal labor and delivery.