Overdue pregnancy: What to do when baby's overdue

An overdue pregnancy can leave you tired and anxious. Find out what might cause an overdue pregnancy and what it can mean for you and your baby.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your due date has come and gone — and you're still pregnant. What's going on?

Although your due date might seem to have magical qualities, it's simply an educated guess about when your baby is most likely to arrive. It's perfectly normal to give birth one to two weeks before — or after — your due date. In fact, your pregnancy must continue two weeks past your due date to earn the official label of overdue pregnancy, also known as postterm pregnancy.

Enough already!

You might be more likely to have an overdue pregnancy if:

  • The exact date of the start of your last menstrual period isn't known
  • This is your first pregnancy
  • You've had a prior overdue pregnancy
  • Overdue pregnancy runs in your family
  • Your baby is a boy
  • You're obese

Rarely, overdue pregnancy might be related to problems with the placenta or the baby.

Whatever the cause, you're probably tired of being pregnant by this point. Your back might ache and your ankles might be swollen. You might be struggling with heartburn and hemorrhoids. You might have trouble sleeping because you simply can't get comfortable — or anxiety about childbirth might keep you awake.

Rest assured, an overdue pregnancy won't last forever. Labor could begin at any time.

Keeping an eye on your pregnancy

Prenatal care will continue after you pass your due date. Your health care provider will watch for signs of complications, such as preeclampsia. He or she will also check your cervix to see if it's begun to thin and dilate in preparation for labor.

If you're more than one week past your due date, your health care provider might track your baby's heartbeat with an electronic fetal monitor or use ultrasound to observe your baby's movements and measure the amount of amniotic fluid.

May 31, 2014 See more In-depth