Pregnancy and you blog

Overdue baby: Will this baby ever be born?

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. October 4, 2011

It's easy to get attached to your due date. It's one of the first things you want to know when you find out you're pregnant — and when you share the news, the first question people ask is, "When are you due?" Still, there's nothing magical about your due date. It's simply an estimate of when your baby will be born. That's why the official term is estimated date of delivery, or EDD.

At the beginning of pregnancy, you might feel as though you're rushing toward your due date. Thoughts of an overdue baby don't even cross your mind. At the end of pregnancy, though, time can seem to stand still. Your due date might creep toward you with every day seeming to be longer than the last. People see you coming and ask one of the silliest questions: "You haven't had that baby yet?" Your mother calls every day and if you don't answer she checks with the hospital to find out if you're there. Your overdue baby might leave you with swollen legs and feet, a bladder the size of an olive, sore hips from trying to lie on your side, and enough heartburn to convince you that he or she will have a ponytail at birth.

So what happens when you have an overdue baby? It can be devastating to watch your due date come and go uneventfully. In fact, though, many women deliver after their due date — and it's possible that you will, too. Unless there are complications for you or the baby, there's no reason to consider an induction right away. If you and your baby are healthy, it's generally best to wait until labor begins on its own.

To make sure that your overdue baby is thriving, your health care provider might recommend a nonstress test — a simple test that uses a fetal monitor to check how your baby's heart rate reacts to his or her movements. You might also have an ultrasound to measure the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. Typically, these tests offer reassurance that all is well with the baby.

If your pregnancy continues a week or two past your due date, ask your health care provider when he or she would recommend inducing labor. If you decide to proceed with an induction for your overdue baby, discuss the various methods available. Be sure you know the risks for both you and the baby.

Above all, do your best to remain patient. Remind yourself and others that the vast majority of babies come in their own time. You might even laugh about it. The baby hasn't arrived, and he or she is already ruling your schedule!

Oct. 04, 2011