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Health & Pregnancy

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What to Do When Baby Is Overdue

The nursery is painted, the mobile's hanging over the crib, and dozens of adorable onesies are perfectly folded in a dresser drawer. So, where's baby?

Your OB gave you a due date nine months ago, but your little one is not appearing on schedule. Your friends and family keep asking, "When's the big day?" Now that it's passed, you don't know what to say.

Your OB gave you a due date that was 40 weeks from the first day of your last period. Due dates aren't set in stone, though. Pregnancy calculations can be off by a week or two, especially if you didn't remember the exact date of your last period.

Most babies arrive between the 38th and 42nd weeks of pregnancy. When babies haven't arrived by week 42, they're considered late -- or post-term.

Why is my baby late?

No one is sure why some babies make a delayed entrance into the world. Nothing you did or didn't do during your pregnancy caused your baby to take up an extended residence in your uterus.

However, you may be more likely to deliver late if you:

  • Have never been pregnant before
  • Have had babies born late in the past
  • Have other women in your family who delivered past their due date
  • Were yourself born late

Can being born late hurt my baby?

Delivering more than two weeks after your due date can have some risks. The perinatal mortality rate (stillbirths plus early neonatal deaths) at greater than 42 weeks of gestation is twice that at term (4-7 deaths vs. 2-3 deaths per 1,000 deliveries).

Possible problems with a post-term delivery include:

  • Breathing problems in the baby
  • Slowed or stopped growth because the baby has run out of space in the womb
  • Placental Failure
  • A drop in the level of amniotic fluid -- the liquid that surrounds and protects your growing baby
  • Fetal distress -- a slowed heartbeat and other signs the baby is in trouble
  • Breathing in the first bowel movement (meconium)
  • Need for a cesarean section (C-section) or forceps delivery because the baby is big
  • Stillbirth

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