Is being over-due dangerous?

You would think there was something awful about to happen the minute you pass your due date, the way some women talk about it. Do an online search for “overdue” and you’ll hear tons of women moaning and weeping about how they just want the baby out already and can’t handle being pregnant any longer (and they can be just a couple days past their due date!)  Like I said before, only 5% of women actually deliver on their due date. But if you are a week or more overdue, is this a cause for concern?

Although 40 weeks is just an estimate (and often miscalculated), standard policy seems to be induction at 42 weeks (that’s what happened to me last time). Those who  follow this rule claim there are several risks to letting a baby stew for longer. AboutKidsHealth gives the following reasons:

  • The placenta can get old. The placenta grows inside your uterus and keeps the baby alive inside your body. If the placenta is getting old, it can slow down or stop your baby from growing. Alternately, if it keeps functioning some say the baby can grow “too big”, making your labour harder and longer.

  • There is a higher chance your baby will have some kind of problem during labour and birth if you are overdue, including insufficient oxygen.

  • If the liquid from the amniotic sac leaks out, the baby could get an infection.

iVillage lists these possible complications:

  • The risk of fetal death and stillbirth is considerably higher in postmature babies.
  • The risk of macrosomia (very large baby) and dysfunctional labor is higher.
  • There is an increased risk for operative delivery (cesarean, forceps and vacuum).
  • More intervention is done for postdates pregnancies (induction, monitors, IVs and testing).
  • The risk of infection and hemorrhage goes up slightly.
  • Meconium, which is often present in the fluid of a postdates baby, can be aspirated into the lungs. This necessitates suctioning and careful observation to prevent pneumonia.

But I like other ways of thinking much better. How about this one, from Birthsong: “When your body is fully ready to open up and birth your baby, it will happen. Your baby will be perfectly prepared. Your body will be fully ready.”

Compleat Mother sings the same tune: “Mothers carry everything they need within them, whether it is the wisdom and power to seek out necessary help or to give birth completely alone. During pregnancy, just like during labor, mothers don’t need to be searching for problems, but instead remaining receptive to messages their bodies give them. As a general rule just take good care of yourself and your baby, be “in tune” with your inner wisdom, and don’t let arbitrary rules and measures influence you.”

I guess this reasoning appeals to me since I’ve always been a “go with the flow” type of person. Why not let nature run it’s course, as long as you are being responsible and doing all you can to ensure a healthy baby? I’m going for the post-date monitering and ultrasounds. As long as the doctors do not sense anything going wrong, I’m content to just wait it out and let this baby come when it’s ready.

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