It may be a surprise for many women to learn that there is no such thing, medically speaking, as an overdue baby. When a woman reaches 41 weeks, she has a late-term pregnancy, and when she reaches 42 weeks, her baby is considered post-term, and before then, unless there are any red flags raised, she and her baby are perfectly fine to carry on as they are.
The trouble with due dates is that the formula for calculating them was developed by a doctor named Franz Karl Naegele in the eighteenth century. He decided to state that a pregnancy lasted for 280 days after working out the average length of pregnancies in the hospital in which he worked and knowing the fact that a woman's menstrual cycle was 28 days.
Modern technology allows us to estimate the age of your pregnancy while you are still in the early stages, and although recent research has shown that if you exclude problem pregnancies, healthy pregnancies last an average of 288 days, no changes have been made to how your date is estimated.
This leads to thousands of women every year freaking out because they are 41 weeks. They don’t need to fret. These are the things that worry us most when we have passed the golden date.
15 What Was That?
When you are waiting for your little bundle of joy to finally make an exit, you’ll be jumpier than a kangaroo on a pogo stick. Every single tiny twitch and mysterious twinge will take on a whole new meaning.
Muscle pulls ever so slightly when you stand up? Contractions. The skin across your baby bump feels tight? The onset of labor, definitely. Swallowed the last cookie too fast and got that strange thing going on where it feels like your chest might explode? Quick, grab that labor bag and start your breathing exercises.
Unfortunately, this state of constant alert can be very tiring, and if you keep it up, you’ll be exhausted before the fun even starts. Be reassured that when labor begins it may be a little difficult to be sure it’s the real thing but once you get going, there’s no mistaking it. So, please try to relax.
14 Is It Safe To Leave The House?
By the time Week 40 comes and goes you will no doubt be feeling like you are the size of a planet and have begun to exert your own gravitational field. You will not want to stay stuck indoors waiting but at the same time when you are so large that you haven’t seen your feet in several days, it can be difficult getting on shoes let alone build up the energy to go far from home.
The simple answer is this. If you feel up to going out, and you can do so safely, by all means, get out, socialize and get a change of scenery. As long as you don’t venture too far from home, it is unlikely you are going to go to suddenly pop out your baby before getting home and to then to the hospital.
13 I Won’t Make It To The Hospital In Time
The first stage of labor is the early or latent phase which might involve a bloody show, backache, cramps, or an upset stomach. This early stage can stop and start, and your doctor or midwife will not consider you to be in proper labor until you are 4cm dilated, and your contractions are happening every three or four minutes and last for between five seconds and 60 seconds. This is active labor and the point from which your team will measure how long your labor takes.
In first time pregnancies, it can take an average of eight hours from the beginning of the active phase until your baby puts in an appearance. If you are not a first timer, it will be an average of five hours, unless you had a much quicker labor first time around. The upshot of this is that you will have plenty of time to get there. Probably.
12 Is My Water Going To Break?
Almost every pregnant worries at one point or another, about her water breaking somewhere embarrassing and this feels more and more likely as the days roll by. The thing that many first time moms do not realize is that only around 15 percent of women experience a rupture of the membranes and some women in active labor have their waters broken by their medical team.
Of course, the big fear is that you are going to be standing in the checkout line and suddenly this tsunami is going to flow from between your legs and take out checkouts three through nine. Don’t worry; this is highly unlikely to happen. If you are one of the small group of people who do suddenly require a clean-up in aisle three don’t worry. When this does happen, people are usually incredibly excited that your baby is on the way and you’ll more likely be treated like royalty than like someone who has done something terrible.
11 What If They Have To Induce?
There seem to be two types of women who have gone through pregnancy and childbirth. The first group are generally upbeat and positive and will acknowledge that bad things can happen but will tell you that the possibility is minimal. Then there is the second group who, as soon as they discover you are pregnant, love to terrify you with stories of thirty-hour labors, tearing to the perineum, and needing 486 stitches to hold their va-jay-jay together afterward.
This second group will tell you that induced labor is SO much more painful than when it happens without help, and that horrific things will befall all those who try to help the baby out before your body starts the process.
Medical professionals do not take induction lightly and if they recommend it, talk it through until you are sure that it is right for you. If it is, don’t believe the horror stories. It hurts to give birth, induced or not, but it is bearable, and you get through it.
10 DIY Eviction
By the time a woman reaches her due date, she is more than ready to meet her baby. By the time you are approaching the 42-week mark, you are prepared to do anything to get this nasty little squatter out of your body and into your arms. Trust me, I understand. I know from experience that by the time you hit this unwanted pregnancy milestone, you are prepared to try every natural induction method known to man.
A quick Google of “natural induction methods” will give you about 84,900,000 results, so there is no shortage of advice out there. From nip stimulation and lots of intimate times to spicy foods and raspberry leaf tea, suggestions abound. As long as you run the idea past your medical team first, there is no harm in trying some of these standard tricks to kick-start the process. Just remember, if your body isn’t ready, nothing much will get things going so don’t be too disappointed if it doesn't work.
9 Am I Ready?
Again, this is something most pregnant women worry about at some stage, but the feelings tend to become more intense the closer you get to your due date. Once you pass that point, this intensification process continues so you could get to the stage where you drive yourself insane with worry.
Honestly, few people are ever truly ready to become parents. It is human nature that you can prepare yourself on an intellectual level, and you can understand, to a degree, what is about to happen, but until you actually go through the experience, you do not have the full emotional impact.
Having said that, you are about to have a baby, whether you feel ready or not, and you will learn as you go, make mistakes, and everything will work out just fine.
8 What’s In A Name?
Some people know exactly what they are going to name their child before they are even pregnant. Our eldest son had his name set in stone before he was even created but by the time we got to our fourth and fifth, the choosing of a name felt like a terrible test.
What on earth were we going to choose for these babies? We are responsible for giving them a name that will in some ways define them as people for the rest of their lives. The weight of responsibility bore down, and all of the baby name articles in the world were of no help at all. In the end, both occasions resolved themselves at random moments when the ‘perfect’ name appeared from nowhere, and you will also find the right one for your child.
As with many other post 40th week worries, this one gets worse with every passing day. It is like an exam or a job interview looming on the horizon. Then the event doesn’t happen on the day it was planned, and you are left hanging on tenterhooks knowing that at any second this colossal event could drop from the sky.
7 Will I Get To The Bathroom Quickly Enough?
This is a small but significant worry for those of us that have expanded to the size of an ocean-going liner, without the aerodynamics. During the final month of pregnancy, most moms-to-be have to put a conscious effort into getting up from a seated position and go hunting for their center of gravity before putting one foot in front of the other. Add to this that speed is generally not an option and you have a situation where any activity needs a little more time to get through.
Now add a few days past your due date, when you feel like you double in size every hour, your baby is bringing his full weight to bear on your bladder, and every twinge brings up the terrifying prospect of you peeing your pants before you get to the bathroom.
6 Is The Baby Okay?
Many moms worry that once they pass their due date the baby may be damaged in some way by their extended pregnancy. What you need to remember is that the due date is just an estimate and that only approximately five percent of babies arrive on the predicted day. The length of your pregnancy can depend on your ethnic background, for example, the average Japanese woman's pregnancy is 37 weeks and five days. It will also depend on the length of your menstrual cycle, the length of other pregnancies in your family and your baby itself.
Yes, it can be true that the placenta can become less efficient as time goes on, but this does not mean that on a predetermined date it is going to suddenly fail like someone flipped a switch. Your medical team will monitor you carefully and can perform a non-stress test to ensure the baby is healthy and well supported by the placenta.
5 Will My Stress Harm The Baby?
“I am so worried out about my stress levels. Will the fact that I am worrying harm my baby? Will my worrying about worrying further harm my baby? How do I stop freaking out????”
If you find yourself in this position, take heart, you are not alone. As your due date becomes a distant memory, visible only in the rearview mirror, and each subsequent day of your pregnancy looms large, filling your horizon, it is natural to worry. The trouble is that you can get caught up in an infinite cycle of worry, then worrying about the worrying and then getting even more stressed about all of your worrying and then...well you get the idea.
Bottom line is, you becoming stressed is a waste of energy. It will not harm your baby, but it will exhaust you when you need to be conserving your energy.
4 I’ll Never Look The Same Again
To some degree this is true, but that is not a bad thing. You might have stretch marks and they should be viewed as a badge of honor, won through the hard work of expanding rapidly while you grow an entirely new human being, not as a disfigurement.
Your flat stomach may not twang straight back, and it is more than likely that you will have a rounder silhouette post-pregnancy, but these are not things about which you should get upset. What is important is that you and your baby are as healthy as you can be, that you look after you both and that your body receives the correct levels of nutrition and exercise for it to do its job.
Your body has just taken over 40 weeks to transform, and it has done under the influence of a complex combination of hormones and physical processes. It will take time to see your feet again, but it will happen.
3 Something Embarrassing Will Happen During Labor
By the time you get to the stage where you are pushing out your baby, your abdominal cavity is pretty crowded, and all kinds of strange things can happen. Your baby might suddenly be putting pressure on the nerve responsible for vomiting, and you find yourself doing the technicolor yodle all over yourself or anyone withing puking distance.
All of the pushing can also cause a sudden shower of pee or the involuntary deposit of poop, but none of it is something your support team hasn't seen before. It is so typical they will clean you up and carry on like nothing happened and you might be so focused by the human being you are trying to push out of your lady garden that you might not notice at all.
2 What If I'm Not A Good Mom?
You do not have to be a good mom; you just need to be good enough. Try not to measure yourself against other mothers you know, fictional mothers on TV and in movies or the semi-fictional mamas who post their best moments online and never share the days they spend in tears, covered in baby wee and wondering how they ever got themselves into this.
As long as you take care of your child's needs, and don't become a slave to their wants, you can congratulate yourself when you get to bedtime having had a shower and if you put on clean clothes that day. Set yourself little targets to reach, congratulate yourself when you achieve them and remember if you worry about being a good mother, that probably means you are a good mother. It's when you don't care you should worry.
1 What If I Don’t Love My Baby?
We are all given the impression that as soon as you are handed your baby there will be a sudden gush of emotions and you will be instantly hopelessly in love. What many people are fearful to discuss is that many women just don't feel that way.
It might be that you have gone through a difficult pregnancy and labor, and you are just too emotionally drained to feel anything. You might have become pregnant by accident and feel ambivalent about the entire concept of motherhood, or you may be expecting to love this tiny bundle to bits and then be shocked to find that you don't. You are not faulty or a bad mom if this happens. Just take your time, take care of your baby and let the relationship between the two of you develop. This is perfectly normal
References: babycentre.co.uk, whattoexpect.com, wehavekids.com, bellybelly.com.au, healthline.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, mayoclinic.org