Keeping an eye on your pregnancy

Prenatal care will continue after you pass your due date. During visits, your health care provider will check your baby's size, heart rate, position and ask about your baby's movements.

If you're more than one week past your due date, your health care provider might do fetal heart rate monitoring (nonstress test) and an amniotic fluid volume assessment or a combination of a nonstress test and a fetal ultrasound (biophysical profile). In some cases, labor induction might be recommended. Labor induction is the stimulation of uterine contractions during pregnancy before labor begins on its own to achieve a vaginal birth.

Giving baby a nudge

If you and your health care provider choose labor induction, you might be given medication to help your cervix ripen. Your health care provider might dilate your cervix by inserting into it a small tube (catheter) with an inflatable balloon on the end. Filling the balloon with saline and resting it against the inside of the cervix helps ripen the cervix. If your amniotic sac is still intact, your health care provider might break your water by creating an opening with a thin plastic hook.

If necessary, you might also be given medication to kick-start your contractions. A common choice is Pitocin, a synthetic version of oxytocin — a hormone that causes the uterus to contract.

Hang in there

You're in the homestretch! Whether your health care provider suggests a wait-and-see approach or schedules an induction, stay in touch and make sure you know what to do if you think you're in labor. In the meantime, do your best to enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.

July 01, 2017 See more In-depth