“Overdue” Pregnancy

silhouette of pregnant womanThe word “overdue” is not really a correct term to use. The concept of the length of a pregnancy being a 40-week period of time was just a random time-frame that was chosen.  A German obstetrician in the early 1800s announced strongly that pregnancy should last ten lunar months of four weeks each.

The timing is relative.

The current standard for determining due dates, ultrasonography, does not do so accurately. In the first trimester it can give a time frame of plus or minus 5 days, a ten-day window. Sonograms done later in pregnancy are even less accurate than early-on.

These types of tests have been proven to have “poor predictive outcomes ” or better said, false-positive/non-predictable results. Yet it is exactly what the doctor uses to determine if a woman or/ and her baby are in need of intervention.

The tests are run at the 42-week mark. Usually, these tests are not accurate, but the doctor rushes to “rescue” the baby. Ironically, when the baby turns out to be just fine, then it reinforces the doctor’s belief that the baby needed “saving”.

Babies come when they are supposed to be born.

Just as doctors use the “average” for determining the length of labor, the “average” is what determines whether or not your baby is late, or not. That average does not take into consideration your own cycles (for date determination) or whether you even kept track of your menstruation cycles.

Doctors become concerned about the well-being of your baby if you have hit the 40 week mark and you have not begun labor. Their concern is not always justified. Below you will find some tests used to determine if your baby is well.


The false positives of these tests have begun to shore-up the idea that it would be a dangerous thing to allow a pregnancy to continue. When induction is started, there is an increase of fetal distress and with that, increased cesarean sections.

A test you can do:

Fetal Movement Counts: Beginning a few weeks before the “due-date”, pick a time in the day when baby is awake. Then begin counting 10 movements, doing this several days in a row. If there is marked drop in movement, seeing the caregiver who will follow up with one of the next few tests.

Tests the hospital may do:

Non-stress test: Using an external fetal monitor to track the baby’s heart rate when baby moves or during pre-labor (Braxton-Hicks) contractions. The heart-rate of baby should increase. But, sometimes it will not, because baby is asleep.

Vibroacoustic stimulation: A slightly different method than the previously mention one. Basically, a buzzer is sounded against the belly, which is supposed to startle the baby. There should be a resulting heart-rate increase.

Oxytocin Challenge Test: You get hooked up to the fetal monitor, an IV is started with oxytocin to check the baby’s heart rate when contractions have been stimulated.

Biophysical profile: An ultrasound scan that is for the evaluation of the placenta, the movements of the baby, and how often the baby does a “practice breath”. When a baby is having problems, the baby slows-down his/her movements and will stop the “practice breath”. This test is done on a 0-10 scale (“0” being the worst).

Amniotic Fluid Volume measurement: Ultrasound is used to estimate the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus. The idea is that too little amniotic fluid creates a probability of stress during labor.

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