A normal pregnancy may range from 37 to 42 weeks gestation. The ‘due date’ for birth is calculated as 40 weeks (280 days) from the first day of the last menstrual period. However, a woman has only a 4% chance of actually giving birth on that date. Just over half of women will birth before that date, but many will go longer. In fact, 20% will still be pregnant at 41 weeks.
This can be a frustrating time - your phone is constantly ringing with people wanting to know what’s happening, you are finding it increasingly hard to get comfortable and you are very keen to meet your baby.
Thankfully there is only a short time left in the pregnancy.
A post dates or prolonged pregnancy reaches 42 weeks gestation (294 days) or beyond. In order to have a plan of care in place before you reach this date we like to review women who are still pregnant at 41 weeks to see how they are coping, check the baby and discuss what needs to happen next, if anything. This review takes place in the Post Dates Clinic in the Day Assessment Unit (part of Women’s Health Clinic) and the appointment is made by your pregnancy team.
What happens at my Post Dates Clinic visit?
At the Post Dates Clinic we perform some examinations:
We check your blood pressure and urine and feel your tummy as at a normal clinic visit.
- Then we check the baby is well by doing a heart tracing and an ultrasound measurement of the fluid in the uterus around the baby.
- Finally, we usually do an internal examination to check how ready your cervix (the neck of the womb) is for labour
At the Post Dates Clinic we then discuss the options with you
Generally we advise that birth should be brought on in the next few days. This is called induction of labour (and labour is described as being induced).
We advise induction because it is a little bit safer to deliver the baby than to leave it in the uterus at this stage although the risks in continuing the pregnancy are very small.
- Induction in this situation seems to have little impact on the chance of caesarean (slightly lower with induction than waiting) or vaginal birth assisted by vacuum or forceps (slightly higher with induction than waiting).
- You will be given an Induction of Labour information sheet so that you know what induction involves.
- Some women prefer not to be induced but to continue the pregnancy a bit longer. Our team will discuss with you what follow up is required if you choose to do this.
Either way, hang in there, not long to go!