Pregnancy Health: The Risks And Likelihood Of Going Past Your Due Date

Although you have marked the calendar for sure, there is no guarantee that you will actually give birth on your due date. What is the likelihood and risk of being

When is the baby due? That is probably the question most frequently asked of any pregnant women. A due date is typically calculated by the date of a woman's last menstrual period before getting pregnant, which provides a rough estimate of the time period in which the baby should come.

The truth is, however, that very few women actually give birth on their due dates. Only about one in twenty will actually go into labor on that exact day and end up giving birth then. The rest of the population of expectant moms may give birth any time within the month surrounding the due date - two weeks before or two weeks after - and be considered normal. Births between 38 and 42 weeks are considered full term.

But who wants to wait? After spending nine months anticipating the new arrival, many are anxious to get that baby out by the time the due date rolls around. Well, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) estimates that your chances of going past 42 weeks are roughly ten percent - although in this day and age many doctors will perform inductions in women who are past 40 weeks.


What are the risks in going past your due date? There are two ways to look at it. First, sometimes when you think you are past your due date, you really aren't. Unless you were using an ovulation tracking device when you got pregnant, few women know exactly when they ovulated and exactly how far along they are in their pregnancies. Doctors traditionally estimate that you ovulate on the 15th day of your menstrual cycle, but this isn't always the case. Ultrasounds and other measuring systems doctors use can also estimate your due date, but it remains an estimate. Since it's so hard to know the exact progress of the baby, many believe that even if you are past your due date, it is better to let things happen naturally and let the baby come when he or she is ready rather than taking the chance that he or she might not be ready to come out.

However, there are also medical risks associated with going too far past your due date. If your baby gets too big, the birthing process can be more difficult. There is also a risk that the placenta can begin to deteriorate after a certain point - assuming that the baby is indeed overdue and there isn't a calculation problem with the due date. The amniotic fluid may also reduce in volume, which can increase the risk of a pinched umbilical cord. For these reasons, many doctors will increase monitoring of a baby past the due date and will induce at the first sign of distress.

Keep in mind: these complications are rare and most doctors will tell you that there is little risk in going a little bit past your due date. As eager as you might be to meet your baby, remember that you have a whole lifetime ahead of you that you will spend together - once these few extra days are up you will barely remember that you had to wait. Good luck!

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