Post-term pregnancy, also known as postmaturity is a pregnancy continuing beyond two weeks of the expected date of delivery (>294 days or 42 weeks).
If you are pregnant and have reached your due date with no signs of labor, you may be wondering what is going on. You may be concerned that your baby is “post-term” and at risk for health problems.
Don’t worry – you’re not alone. In this blog post, we will discuss post-term pregnancies and what you need to know about them.
What is post-term pregnancy?
Post-term pregnancy is a pregnancy extends beyond 42 weeks of gestation. While the average pregnancy lasts between 38 and 42 weeks, about 12% of pregnancies extend beyond this time frame.
So what happens if you are pregnant and reach your due date without going into labor?
If you reach your due date without any signs of labor, your doctor will likely induce labor. This is because the longer a pregnancy goes on, the higher the risk for complications.
For example, babies that are born post-term are more likely to be large for their gestational age. They may also have difficulty passing through the birth canal and may require a C-section delivery. Additionally, post-term babies are more likely to experience respiratory problems and jaundice.
What causes post-term pregnancy?
Several factors can contribute to post-term pregnancy. One common cause is “undisturbed” sleep. This means that the baby is not experiencing the normal contractions that help to move them down the birth canal.
Another common cause is a “lazy” uterus. This means that the uterus is not contracting as efficiently as it should help push the baby out.
Other causes of post-term pregnancy include:
- Wrong dates or inaccurate LMP (last menstrual period)
- Family history of post-term pregnancy
- Congenital anomalies
- Use of certain medications (such as beta-blockers)
- Previous post-term pregnancy
- Multiparity (having multiple babies)
- History of stillbirth or neonatal death
What are the symptoms of post-term pregnancy?
There are a few symptoms that may indicate you’re carrying a post-term baby. These include:
- Your due date has passed with no sign of labor
- You’ve stopped gaining weight or are even losing weight
- Your baby’s movements have slowed down or become less frequent
- You’re feeling anxious or stressed about the pregnancy
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider right away. They can help you determine if you’re truly post-term and, if so, what the next steps are.
How is post-term pregnancy diagnosed?
If you’re more than 42 weeks pregnant, your doctor will likely diagnose you with post-term pregnancy. But if you’re having a healthy pregnancy and there are no concerns about you or your baby’s health, your doctor may elect to simply monitor you closely until you deliver.
To diagnose post-term pregnancy, your doctor will likely do a physical exam and ask about your medical history. He or she may also order tests, such as an ultrasound, to check on your baby’s health.
What are the risks of post-term pregnancy?
As we mentioned before, the longer a pregnancy goes on, the higher the risk for complications. This is why it is important to induce labor if you reach your due date without any signs of labor.
Some of the risks associated with post-term pregnancy include:
- Large for gestational age
- Difficulty passing through the birth canal
- Decreased amniotic fluid
- Prolonged labor
- Respiratory problems
- C-section, vacuum, or forceps delivery
- Fetal distress
- Decreased placental function
- Meconium aspiration
- Cord compression due to oligohydramnios
What are the treatments for post-term pregnancy?
Inducing labor is a process of artificially starting labor contractions. This can be done in several ways, including:
Stripping the membranes: The doctor will insert a gloved finger into the cervix and sweep around the membrane that surrounds the baby. This can cause contractions and help to start labor.
Administration of Pitocin: This is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin. It is given intravenously and can help to stimulate contractions.
Cervical ripening: This is a process of softening the cervix to prepare for labor. It can be done with medication or mechanically.
Once labor is induced, it is important to monitor the baby closely. This is because there is an increased risk for complications, such as fetal distress or meconium aspiration.
When should I call my healthcare provider?
If you are post-term and have not gone into labor, you should call your healthcare provider. They will likely induce labor or recommend a course of action.
Post-term pregnancy can be a stressful time, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you through this time. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to call your healthcare provider. They will be able to help you make the best decision for you and your baby.
Post-term pregnancy is a common occurrence, but it is important to be aware of the risks. If you reach your due date without any signs of labor, your doctor will likely induce labor. This is because the longer a pregnancy goes on, the higher the risk for complications. Some of the risks associated with post-term pregnancy include large gestational age, difficulty passing through the birth canal, decreased amniotic fluid, prolonged labor, etc.