So, you're in the end stages of pregnancy. Congrats, you're almost there! That said, you're not going into labor... and it's making you worried. Your water isn't breaking, and you're not sure what to do about it. Well, let's start off with this... no one knows exactly what brings on labor and the breaking of the waters.
It could be hormones, which is what science suspects, it can be magic, it can be voodoo, it can be the weather being just right... no one is 100% sure as to what causes it. We do know there are several factors that come into play during this stage of pregnancy.
First, your prostaglandin levels increase, which causes the cervix to soften. Second, your oxytocin levels increase, triggering contractions. Finally, in most cases, the sac of membranes surrounding the baby ruptures. But, notice the order... you'll have two steps to go before you'll see the membranes rupture.
And remember that worrying about it too much can actually cause things to not happen. Stress can cause a lot of issues even in perfectly healthy women. And waiting on anxious, abated breath can make it seem like it's taking longer and longer to happen when, in actuality, things are progressing at a perfectly normal pace and you're just having a perfectly normal pregnancy, with a perfectly normal late labor.
It just happens sometimes, and while, yes, it does in fact stink, it's just something that happens to a lot of women. In fact, your pregnancy must continue two weeks past your due date to earn the official label of overdue pregnancy, also known as post-term pregnancy.
Rarely, and keep in mind I do mean 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. Rest assured, an overdue pregnancy won't last forever. Labor could begin at any time.
7 Baby Just Isn't Ready To Come Out
Your due date is just an estimate, to be honest. It's not set in stone, and can be off by 2 weeks in either direction. That's why, unless there's a medical emergency, most doctors would be hesitant to induce or perform a c-section prior to 39 or 40 weeks. Expecting your baby to come out at that magical time, like it's on a clock, is just asking for disappointment.
Most of the time, when women sail past that due date, it's perfectly normal. First time moms tend to go into labor around 41 weeks, and second time moms around 40 weeks, and again, that is completely normal. And besides that, babies use those last weeks of pregnancy for crucial brain development and last minute weight gain.
Most of the time, when baby is running late, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them and they are completely fine. Doctors get these dates stuck in people's heads, and taking it to be the gospel is, again, just going to end in disappointment. Cut your body some slack and give it a chance to do what it has to do naturally.
Your baby will be monitored and if anything is wrong or baby isn't showing any signs of coming at 42 weeks or more, then doctors will do something about it. Until then? Think of your due date as a 'floating due date'… it can come and go with ease.
Stress can cause so many problems with pregnancy, but it can also cause you to be late in going into labor. Stress causes the body to produce hormones in response to the threat it perceives, the more stress you have, the more hormones your body produces. Each person handles stress differently, so what happens to one person may not happen to the next.
Stress can cause some to go into labor early, and it can cause some to not go into labor at all. Pregnancy can be nerve-wracking; not only does it entail a lot of physical changes, but preparing to become a parent can take a lot out of you, emotionally and physically.
You need to take the time to relax at the end of the day. Read a book, soak in the tub, have a cool glass of water, watch a movie, do some yoga, anything to help you calm down and relax. A relaxed and happy mom is essential in every stage of pregnancy. And remember that waiting for it will just make it seem to take longer to happen, and will stress you out even more.
Just sit back and enjoy the ride, and let the doctor do his or her job. If something is truly wrong, they will in fact do something about it. No matter how anxious you are, the end result is the most important.
5 First Baby
For whatever reason, your first pregnancy is actually the one where most go overdue, or at least have a higher risk of doing so. While there are many causes for overdue labor, this seems to stand out to many. As mentioned before, first time mothers tend to go into labor at 41 weeks, sometimes a bit longer, and second time mothers go into labor at 40 weeks and some change.
So while you see your due date as that magical day, your chances of going into labor at that time, while already low, are even lower if it's your first pregnancy.
Keeping your body in good shape can help you be ready for labor, and voicing concerns is always a good idea, but honestly… 5% of births occur on their actual due date naturally… and only about 15% of labors have a rupture of membranes that occur outside of a hospital setting.
So, again, relax and let things happen. And I know I'm repeating myself, but honestly, that's what it comes down to… just waiting and letting it happen.
4 It Runs In The Family
Another reason that doctors see as playing a role in waters not breaking or you not going into labor, is if it has happened in the family before. Yes, your family history can in fact play a role in your current labor. Darn it, all, right? Just like anything else, your genetics and family predispositions definitely have a place here… if your grandmother or mother went overdue, you have a higher chance of doing so as well.
And while that stinks, it's not set in stone or guaranteed by any means. Yes, it plays a role, but it's not an oracle as to what's going to happen. But it does give your doctor a reason to pay closer attention, similar to if cancer runs in the family; you're not guaranteed to have cancer, but it gives the physician more reason to keep an eye on things. Same thing here.
Don't get discouraged if you get told that your chances of overdue labor are higher, though… again, you'll be monitored regularly and your doctor will make sure that nothing happens to you or baby as much as possible.
3 It's Actually Rare
In the movies, when a pregnant woman goes into labor, she looks down and all of a sudden, there's this gush of liquid splashing all over the floor. Suddenly, boom, she is in labor and she's in pain! Actually, though, this is pretty rare. Most women don't really have a reaction like this, in fact, very few do.
Some women have leaking fluids that can be mistaken for urine, but very few have that dramatic splashing of water just hitting the floor like Niagara Falls. Though every woman who is pregnant has an amniotic sac, only about 10 percent of pregnant women have their water break before their labor contractions start.
Sometimes, your water may not break at all, and your doctor will need to manually rupture the membrane. Since many women are in and out of the bathroom frequently during the final month of pregnancy, a slow break of the water may seem like par for the course. If you think your water has broken, call your health care provider immediately, even if you're not positive.
2 Your Baby Is Overdue
If your baby is overdue, his or her size might complicate a vaginal delivery. In addition, the amount of amniotic fluid might begin to decrease as the baby grows, which can cause the umbilical cord to become pinched as the baby moves or your uterus contracts.
In a few cases, aging of the placenta might compromise the baby's ability to thrive in your uterus. An overdue baby is also more likely to inhale fecal waste, meconium, which can cause breathing problems or an infection after birth.
Now, doctors can break the waters manually, that's not an issue, usually. We can actually now replicate the whole labor process, hormonally speaking, through artificial methods.
First, a doctor will check to see if the membrane still connects the amniotic sac to the uterus... and if so, they will use a finger to separate the membrane. This can cause your body to release prostaglandin, which will help you progress..
Second, he may manually break the waters, which is known as an amniotomy. This involves a plastic hook to rupture the sac of membranes surrounding the baby... and yes, it's about as comfortable as it sounds.
Third, if your body does not release prostaglandin on it's own, your doctor may administer a dose of it manually to soften the cervix. The dose may be a pill you swallow, or a vaginal gel insert. Finally, you may be given pitocin, a form of oxytocin, to trigger contractions.
1 Your Baby Is Preterm
If your waters DO break, and they do so before 37 weeks, that's preterm labor and you need to get to the doctor as soon as possible. Babies born preterm have difficulties sometimes, and may need a stay in the NICU to thrive and survive...
Women with a history of preterm labor or who have cervical abnormalities are at a higher risk of preterm labor, as well as women carrying multiples. Lifestyle choices can also contribute to preterm labor, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs, taking some prescriptions, and working long hours. Your race, age, income, and medical history can also affect a mother's risk.
Once your membranes rupture, 80 to 90 percent of women will in fact go into full labor in a 24 hour period. So, if yours rupture before labor begins and you're one of the lucky few, congrats, you've just had one of the most tell tale, easiest signs of labor.
Just, remember, you're in the home stretch! Having a good support system to vent to will help you get through this time, but you are getting there and soon, you'll be holding that beautiful baby boy or girl in your arms, and all of this will be a memory.