A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks, but babies usually have plans of their own and decide to make their grand entrance into the world. They either arrive well before we're ready for them or much later than we may have expected. The vast majority of us assume and expect premature infants to have some sort of complication upon their birth, but we don't normally think of the risks that are associated with carrying a baby past the 40th-week mark. We assume those post-term babies will be big, but we don't normally think that they will be sick.
Infants who decide that momma's womb is perfectly fine and see no need to throw themselves a birthday party anytime soon are at risk for a wild host of possible health complications. After a woman passes the 42-week mark in her pregnancy, serious conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, respiratory issues, infections, umbilical cord issues and even stillbirth become critical concerns in the medical world.
Even if a woman has enjoyed an uneventful pregnancy thus far, that doesn't mean that she should necessarily wait on her infant to arrive on his or her own time, especially when modern medicine says time is up! Get that kiddo out mom!
14 The Most Common Physical Disability
Cerebral Palsy is a condition described as the loss or impairment of motor function which results from damage to the brain during pregnancy or during birth. Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the condition and characteristics include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles and tremors. People with CP often have difficulty speaking, hearing, swallowing and often times develop vision problems.
We often associate Cerebral Palsy with premature infants, but some studies are suggesting that there is an elevated risk for babies who are a few weeks overdue as well. Studies show that babies born at 40 weeks have the lowest rate of suffering from Cerebral Palsy.
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, infants who are even a few weeks early, born at 37 weeks doubled their chances of developing the affliction. At 42 weeks babies were 40% more likely to have Cerebral Palsy when compared to infants born at 40 weeks. Considering the placenta breaks down after 40 weeks gestation, it would make sense that there is an elevated risk for this condition. Some of the causes for CP include not getting enough oxygen, blood or nutrients during or before birth. So it would seem that a few weeks on either side of the optimal birth spectrum really do make a difference in regards to this particular disorder.
Even more shockingly, cerebral palsy is also "the most common physical disability" in kids, according to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research.
13 Inching Towards Being A 10-Pounder
This isn't exactly rocket science here, but overdue babies tend to be larger than those who arrive on or before their due date. One pitfall to these late bloomers per say is that their larger size puts them and momma in harm's way regarding their entry into the world. The condition of being a big baby, known as Macrosomia, can cause the mother's body to have to work overtime when they are delivering as if it isn't going to work hard enough as it is.
Chubby, roly-poly infants are just about the most adorable things on Earth, but with that cuteness certainly comes a risk.
When babies weigh more than 9 pounds 15 ounces the risk of complications increases greatly, according to BabyCenter. These big babes can get their shoulder wedged behind mom's pelvic bone. They also can cause mothers to suffer from tears down there, heavy postpartum bleeding and certain infections.
Anytime an infant is delivered after 42 weeks, they are going to run the risk of being larger and thus creating possible complications for both the mother and the baby. If you are creeping up towards 42 weeks pregnant, you might want to ask your doctor about giving your kiddo a good little eviction notice in the form of an induction.
12 A Very Real Disorder
ADHD is a very common childhood disorder where the child appears to be inattentive and unable to control their impulsiveness. While there are several behavioral and medicinal methods to curbing the effects of ADHD, it is considered a lifelong condition that typically begins in childhood and remains with kids throughout their lifetimes to one extent or another.
While it's not exactly an ideal condition to have, I don't know many mothers who would necessarily choose this for their child, it isn't a deal-breaker.
There are tons of extremely successful people in the world who have found ways to harness their ADHD, work through it and rise to greatness. Karina Smirnoff, Jim Carrey, Michael Phelps, and Will Smith are all rumored to have ADHD.
Babies who incubate for longer than 42 weeks might be more prone to this particular brain disorder according to at least one study. According to The Telegraph, a study of 5,000 babies born in Rotterdam between the years 2002 and 2006 showed that those who went longer than 42 weeks gestation were twice as likely to develop ADHD by age 3. While the research is far from conclusive, it might be worth looking into in the future.
11 Increased Risk Of Stillbirth
Stillbirth: It's just about the scariest word on the planet, ask any mother to be. The mere thought of having to endure a stillbirth is almost an unimaginable outcome for any woman who is expecting a child. The thought of losing a child is basically numbing and terrifying and us moms would do just about anything to avoid such a devastating event.
Carrying a baby past the 42-week mark has been shown to slightly elevate a mother's risk of suffering a stillbirth, making overdue babies a real roll of the dice in some cases. The risk is not tremendous in regards to specific numbers and percentages, but heaven knows it would be enough for me to call up my doctor and beg him to get that baby out of me stat!
In general, stillbirth affects 2 to 3 per 1000 deliveries in women who deliver between 37 and 42 weeks. After 42 weeks though that risk increases to 4 to 7 deaths per 1000, according to Very Well Family. This elevated risk is one reason why many doctors will urge mothers to undergo an induction once they hit the 42-week mark or otherwise monitor the mother and baby closely to make sure that she or he is not undergoing any stress while incubating.
10 Post-Maturity Syndrome
This phase technically refers to any pregnancy that has gone past 42 weeks gestation or has lasted longer than 294 days from the first day of a woman's last menstrual cycle. There aren't a ton of babies that hang on this long so to speak, only 6% of pregnancies go past the 42-week mark, but for those that do, they are in danger of suffering from Post-maturity Syndrome.
The mighty placenta is designed to supply babies with nutrients and oxygen for the duration of the pregnancy, but it's not an organ without limits.
As the end of the nine months nears, the placenta breaks down and loses some function making it precarious for an infant to carry on for weeks past their due date. According to Stanford Children's Health, symptoms of post-maturity include dry, loose, peeling skin, overgrown nails, minimal fat deposits, visible creases on the palms and flats of the feet, green, brown or yellow staining of the skin from meconium, and a wide-eyed alert appearance.
Considering all four of my children came nice and early, I never had to worry about this condition. While it wasn't on my personal list of concerns, it might certainly worry mommies who find themselves wondering if their baby will ever make it's debut.
9 Insufficiency In The Baby's Lifeline
The placenta literally makes the world go round when it comes to infants and pregnancy. Without this wondrous organ, babies won't grow and develop the way they need to. The good old placenta also doesn't last forever, that thing has an expiration date on it.
Babies, however, don't always get that "time's up" notice and they seem as happy as little clams hanging out in mommy's womb, oblivious to the fact that the organ keeping them alive is on its last leg.
Placental insufficiency doesn't come with a whole lot of warning signs for mom and the outside world though, which makes it all the more frightening. The good news is if you are overdue and being monitored by health care professionals they will often make sure that all is good and well in Placenta-town via ultrasounds, blood tests, and non-stress tests, according to Captain Mums.
Going through any pregnancy without proper care can be precarious, going past 42 weeks without adequate monitoring is even more dangerous. Your baby is counting on you to make sure he or she makes it to the finish line, so never leave something as precious as a baby up to the fates. Prenatal care can alleviate so many conditions that could otherwise hurt your infant.
8 Breathing In #2
Well here is an unpleasant condition to have to think about if you are currently carrying an overdue and super stubborn baby: Meconium aspiration. Meconium is that dark greenish, sludgy gunk that babies first pass through their intestines. In other words, it's their first weird looking doodoo.
Pretty much every parent who has ever changed a newborn bottom has come face to face with this stuff and suddenly wondered if they, in fact, gave birth to a little alien. Overdue babies typically pass their first stools while still in utero, which means that stuff is floating around in their little sac with them. Furthermore, the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding an unborn baby decreases as the pregnancy nears term and goes beyond, this means any meconium in the fluid is concentrated.
According to Health Line, babies can then breathe in their own waste so to speak, leading to a whole host of possible complications and issues.
Infants suffering from this condition can develop pulmonary hypertension, blocked airways affecting the usage of their lungs and even brain-injuring oxygen depletion. The good news is in the event that your baby sucks in his own poop, it is almost always treatable. Hooray for hospitals and hooray for modern medicine.
7 The Worst-Case Scenario
This lifeline from your body to your baby's body must remain in tip-top shape for pregnancies to progress normally and when something goes amiss with the umbilical cord this can mean serious trouble for infants. During the nine long months of pregnancy, the baby and its umbilical cord typically have plenty of space and amniotic fluid to float around in, the design of the female body is a wondrous thing after all.
If you are pregnant and hellbent on letting nature take its course by letting your pregnant body go as long as possible, it's important to receive proper medical care so that you and your baby can be closely monitored in these last weeks of pregnancy.
As a mother approaches 40 weeks of pregnancy through her body starts winding down this preggo chapter and closing up shop. The placenta starts calling it quits and the amniotic fluid decreases along with a still growing baby. Needless to say, the quarters become pretty cramped in that womb.
According to Medline Plus, if the amniotic fluid gets too low and the baby grows too big, which is not an impossibility with overdue babies, the cord can get pinched or pressed. When this happens the fetus is not receiving the oxygen she desperately needs and the consequences can be devastating.
6 Sleepy Baby
Hypoglycemia is a condition where a baby's blood sugar levels falls very low following his or her birth. While it doesn't seem as frightening as some of the other devastating conditions on this list like stillbirth and Cerebral Palsy, severely love blood sugar levels can have seriously adverse effects on infants if left untreated. Long-term effects of Neonatal Hypoglycemia can include brain damage, learning disabilities, epilepsy, vision problems and Cerebral Palsy.
Glucose is basically brain food and without it your baby's brain will not develop properly and low glucose levels can impair the growth process and brain cells can then begin to die, according to American Baby & Child Law Centers.
Thankfully this is a condition that is very easily caught and remedied by trained hospital staff who will look for the signs and symptoms of a baby suffering from HG. However for mommies who skip out on the hospital birth or midwife monitored birth experience, this condition can be a very real and very dangerous possibility. When left untreated it is one of the leading causes of brain injury in infants. So who is at risk for this condition? Typically babies who are born very large and babies who go post-term will be at a greater risk for Hypoglycemia.
5 Stagnant Numbers
When we think of babies who are overdue, we don't normally think of them as anything but large. The more time they have in the womb to grow the bigger they will be right?
Well, the answer is a yes AND a no. Babies who go full term or over will likely be larger than their previous counterparts or even babies born at 37 or 38 weeks, but that does not mean they will grow indefinitely.
Once the mighty placenta stops doing its thing, grows weary and calls it a day, the little fetus attached to it will stop receiving nutrients. It only makes sense that if a baby's supply of nutrition is suddenly depleted, it won't grow as steadily as before. Because of this overdue infants can actually cease to develop and grow at a certain point! The art of the placenta is not an exact science. Some organs will break down faster than others while plenty of moms carry to 42 weeks and never see an inkling of an issue. With close doctor supervision, it is likely that babies will do just fine
4 An Unwanted Invasion
Newborn infections are another risk factor for carrying your baby past 42 weeks and like respiratory distress, infections can earn your little guy an extended stay at Casa de NICU, as outlined on PubMed Health.
Many times mothers assume that because they have had a non-complicated pregnancy, it is safe to continue on until nature says it is time. Sadly sometimes it isn't until it is too late where it is discovered that in utero infection was the underlying cause of health problems or stillbirths.
Researchers have found that infants born past 42 weeks have approximately twice the rate of contraction infections, according to Science Daily. Infections are normally an easily solved issue for these tiny dudes, but some of those infections can actually be very severe, even causing death.
We know that after 42 weeks the rate of delivering a stillborn increase. PubMed Health has also pointed out that there is also thought that uteroplacental insufficiency, meconium aspiration and intrauterine infection are the primary underlying causes of the increased perinatal mortality rates.
While your doctor can monitor your late-term pregnancy and make sure amniotic fluid levels are sufficient and they can track your infant's growth and heart rate, infection isn't always something that they can easily predict.
3 Can't Catch A Breath
Plenty of newborn babies have breathing problems when they are first born, some are severe while others are minor. Any mother to a preemie or otherwise compromised baby will tell you that breathing issues are basically par for the course.
Oftentimes, we tend to associate or even expect breathing issues with preemies, but babies born past 42 weeks can be just as affected in this arena. One of the primary causes of breathing problems in infants who are not premature is respiratory distress.
According to PubMed Health, some of the major causes of respiratory distress such as meconium aspiration, maternal infection, and placental insufficiency are commonplace in overdue pregnancies. Any one of these conditions can affect your infant's ability to use his mighty lungs properly upon his worldly entrance.
In fact the vast majority of post-term babies who end up earning themselves a little NICU stay will be there because of breathing issues. More times than not it is meconium aspiration that lands them there. Thankfully these infants bounce back and their respiratory issues are typically resolved fairly quickly, especially when compared to their NICU preemie roommates who might need weeks or months pf assistance to get their breathing issues remedied.
2 Looking Like A Conehead
Let's start here folks: the thought of a metal object ripping your precious yet lodged infant from your body is more than a bit terrifying of a thought. I don't think many would argue that the use of forceps or a birthing vacuum would be number one and two on the birth assistance options list.
As the great Rolling Stones once said, you can't always get what you want though and the timeless saying is so true when it comes to birth. Sometimes nature gives us a big old middle finger and everything we envisioned for our birthing experience flies right out the window.
Babies get stuck, pushing is hopeless, giant metal objects get shoved up our lady parts in a grand attempt to dislodge human beings from our bodies. Is it all great fun right? Forceps and vacuums aren't a favorite go-to method of delivering infants, but sometimes the big guns get called in when it's an absolute must. While forceps and vacuums might get your baby out into the world, the process doesn't come without risks.
These procedures, which are often used for large babies stuck in mama's body, can leave facial injuries to infants, facial muscle weakness, skull fractures, and bleeding, as reported by the UTSourthwesten Medical Center.
1 Complications From Going Unnatural
The word "induction" is either the most terrifying word on the planet or a blessed word of comfort to mothers who have undergone the birthing process. Regardless of what camp mommies fall in, they tend to have some strong opinions in regards to the ultimate kick-start to the birthing process.
Induction is often used in pregnancies that have gone over 42 weeks and still show no or few signs of happening as well as numerous other dangerous conditions that force doctors to step i. When babies have overstayed their welcome by more than a bit, induction can help the mother's body get the party going by stimulating uterine contractions. While this often times super painful process will likely result in a baby in one way or another, there are some risks that come along with it.
Induction risks include low heart rate for the baby and an elevated risk for infection. There are additional risks for mothers too like uterine rupture and heavy bleeding after giving birth. On top of this, the process only proves successful about 75% of the time. The other 25% end up having to get a cesarean section in the end, according to Mayo Clinic.
Resources: telegraph.co.uk, babycenter.com, verywellfamily.com, stanfordchildren's.org, parenting.firstcry.org, healthline.com, medlineplus.gov, abclawcenters.com, wikipedia.com, utswmed.org, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, sciencedaily.com, ncbi.nln.nih.gov.