You’re overdue: Now what?

At the 42nd-week mark, your pregnancy can be considered overdue i.e. over your estimated due date.

However, it is important to understand that this is by no means an indication of there being something wrong with your baby.

In fact, most newborns do not actually arrive on their due date. Rather, newborns in most cases, only arrive within two weeks of the due date.

98% of newborns arrive before the end of the 42nd week, so your baby will likely arrive sooner than you think.

Your baby at this stage should be the size of a big jackfruit or watermelon. Despite the large size, you should still be able to have a normal birth through your vagina like other mothers.

While overdue pregnancies are perfectly normal, your overdue baby may display certain features such as slightly longer hair or nails and dry, cracked, peeling, or wrinkled skin.

These conditions in most cases, are temporary and due to the shedding of their protective vernix around the time of the previously anticipated due date.

How is my body changing?

You will likely experience the same pregnancy symptoms as those of the previous weeks.

These symptoms include leg cramps, sleeping difficulties, backache, pelvic pressure, haemorrhoids, frequent urination, and contractions.

You may also experience psychological stress, which is understandable. What you can do for yourself and your baby is to try to relax and let him come out when he is ready.

Keep in mind that your baby will likely arrive by the end of the 42nd week, so you should keep an eye out for symptoms of labour.

These include:

• (Possibly bloody) mucus discharge

• Water breaking

• Constant and intensive contractions at short intervals

What should I be concerned about?

While overdue pregnancies are not alarming in themselves, patients with a 42-week pregnancy are at higher risks of certain complications:

• Placental problems

• Low amniotic fluid

• Pinched umbilical cord

• The need to use the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

• Possible physical injuries during delivery

• The need to perform a Cesarean section

What should I tell my doctor during my visit?

Discuss with your doctor any possible complications that may affect your pregnancy at this stage.

During the 42nd week, you should also keep up with your kick counts as much as you have been doing in your third trimester. If there are any changes in the kick frequency, you should notify your doctor and/or obstetrician immediately.

Other signs you should look out for include any abnormal discharge, bleeding, or abdominal pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must immediately notify your doctor.

What tests should I know about?

At this stage of your pregnancy, it is very important for your doctor to keep an even closer watch on your pregnancy.

However, as long as your baby is under close surveillance and has shown no worrying signs, he or she should be completely fine.

During this time, your doctor will likely perform certain tests to ensure the wellbeing of your baby.

These tests include an ultrasound, a non-stress test, and possibly a contraction stress test.

The purpose of these tests is to ensure that baby is moving well, breathing well, has sufficient amniotic fluid, and a healthy heart rate.

Due to the increased risk associated with overdue pregnancies, your doctor may also, at this stage, consider performing medical labour induction.

This method may be necessary if test results show that your baby should not stay inside much longer. Different methods of inducing labour include:

Stripping of membranes: The doctor will use his finger to swipe around the amniotic sac which will cause the release of certain hormones that can, in turn, induce contractions within the next 48 hours.

Breaking of water: The doctor may also break your amniotic sac with a specialised tool. This method may cause contractions within a few hours.

Ripening of cervix: In this method, the doctor will insert a medication known as prostaglandin into your vagina. The medication will help dilate your cervix overnight.

Stimulating contractions: This is done using an IV and a synthetic version of oxytocin, which can help stimulate contractions.

What should I know about being healthy and safe while pregnant?

• Keep your doctor updated always.

• Discuss with your doctor your options for delivery.

• Don’t skimp on any test.

• Take more long walks.

• Try your best to avoid stress.

• Brace yourself for symptoms such as pelvic pain, sleeping difficulties, contractions, and other pregnancy symptoms, all at a more intense level.

This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.