A recent study has shown that women have an increased chance of experiencing a stillbirth after 40 weeks.
Sometimes babies just really like their home in the womb. We have heard stories of mother's going two or even more weeks past their due date! Many women do not like having to induce their labor. They want to go into labor naturally and they believe that the baby will tell them when they are ready to be born. Some mother's don't worry about going over, because they view that as their baby's way of telling them that they are "not ready." Although it is important to wait until at least 39 weeks to deliver, your chances of having a still-birth increase after 40 weeks.
You will start to see fewer women going even a week past their due date. Many doctors and hospitals have started implementing the practice of inducing mothers if they get to 41 weeks. The British Review published in PLOS Medicine combined data from 13 studies of stillbirth and neonatal death involving more than 15 million pregnancies. The study found that the number of stillbirths rose with gestational age. At 37 weeks the chance of having a stillbirth was .011 per thousand. Then at 42 weeks, it was 3.18 stillbirths per thousand. The neonatal death risk did not change between 38 and 41 weeks. However, at 41 weeks or more the relative risk of the baby's death in the first month increased slightly.
Researchers have found many reasons as to why stillbirths will increase after your due date. Doctors have found that the placenta begins to slowly stop providing adequate oxygen and nutrients might be compromised. As the baby grows, the volume of the amniotic fluid might decline which also increases the possibility of having a pinched umbilical cord. Fetal distress might increase as well.
Once mom has reached 40 weeks the doctor will begin to be more vigilant of the baby's health and to make sure that the baby isn't in too much distress. The doctor might even start mentioning a plan in case the baby does not come out naturally. They might recommend inducing labor, breaking the water, or stripping the membranes to encourage the baby to come out. Very few doctors will recommend the baby to just come out naturally after she has already passed her 41 weeks due to the increased risks involved to mother and baby.