Historically, obstetricians have advised women who are past their due dates to be induced. However, in spite of that practice being widespread, it may be possible (in some cases) to wait until you go into labor naturally. If you anticipate going past your due date and want to avoid an induction while also keeping your baby healthy, here are a few surprising facts you may want to know:
1. New research suggests a 37 day variance in gestation periods
Although obstetricians have been using 40 weeks as a measure of a pregnancy's length for decades, new research shows this estimate may be too narrow. In fact, research suggests that women may have up to 37 days of variance in their gestation periods.
Essentially, that means that it can be "normal" and natural to give birth any time within two and a half weeks before or after your due date.
2. You can monitor your baby to ensure it is healthy
Thanks to modern technology, you can now check on your little one while he or she is in utero. If you want to wait and go into natural labor, your obstetrician can check on your baby through an ultrasound. Most importantly, your obstetrician can make sure your amniotic fluid levels are sufficient.
Low fluid levels are one of the risks of going past your due date.
3. There are natural remedies to help speed up the onset of labor
Induction is not the only way to speed up labor. There are multiple "old wives" solutions to encouraging your body to go into labor, and these range from drinking castor oil to stimulating your nipples. You can also ask your obstetrician to do a cervical sweep.
A cervical sweep is where your obstetrician puts his or her fingers in your vagina and tries to separate the amniotic sac from your cervix. Although it may sound painful, it just involves a little pressure, much like a pap smear.
4. A gestational diabetes diet may be best for overdue babies
Unfortunately, babies who are overdue may be at risk of glucose metabolism issues. To protect your baby during his or her last days in the womb, consider eating the same type of diet advised for women with gestational diabetes. Essentially, this means a diet high in vegetables and fiber and low in simple sugars and starches.
5. Inductions may lead to c-sections
One of the main reasons to avoid an induction is that inductions have been linked to c-sections. If you want to avoid this risk, talk with your obstetrician about other options and considerations. Talk to experts like Mile High OB GYN for more information.