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When your baby is late

Don't be surprised if your baby doesn't show up on your original due date. This is common, especially if this is your first baby or if the baby you're carrying is a male.

In fact, a scant 5% of babies are actually born on their due date, notes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That's why it's good to keep in mind that doctors refer to it as your estimated due date.

What is a normal term?

Your due date is usually at 40 weeks, counted from the first day of your last menstrual period. A pregnancy lasting 41 weeks is called "late term," and one lasting 42 weeks or longer is "post-term." 

Why would the original due date be wrong?

The original due date could be off if you didn't know when your last period started. 

An accurate due date also may be harder to figure out if you became pregnant soon after going off birth control pills or other forms of hormonal birth control, or while you were breastfeeding.

What will my doctor recommend?

Longer pregnancies can cause problems for women or their babies. So your healthcare provider may want to do some tests if your pregnancy lasts 41 weeks or longer. Those tests can check on your baby's health. 

Your provider will look at all the test results. Then you may need to wait and do the tests again. Or they may suggest trying to start, or induce, your labor. This can be done using medicine or other methods.

You may get stressed out as the days go by. But keep in mind that most women who give birth after their original due dates have healthy newborns.

More pregnancy news

Can't wait any longer to meet your little one? Learn more about labor induction.

Additional sources: March of Dimes; Office on Women's Health

Reviewed 2/20/2024

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