A pregnancy that lasts more than 42 weeks is called post-term. A pregnancy that is between 41 and 42 weeks is called late-term. Most women deliver between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy.
There are no symptoms of a post-term pregnancy.
In a post-term pregnancy, your doctor may do testing to check on your baby’s well-being and for problems. Tests may include –
- Seeing how your baby’s heart rate responds to activity
- Checking the amount of amniotic fluid
There are certain risks associated with pregnancy continuing beyond 42 weeks of gestation, risking the lives of both the mother and the baby. Some of these risks include –
- Increased risk of stillbirth – As a pregnancy progresses beyond 42 weeks, the risk of stillbirth increases. This is thought to be due to a decrease in the placenta’s ability to provide adequate oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
- Difficulty during labor and delivery – Babies who are born after 42 weeks may be larger than average, making delivery more difficult. They may also be at risk of meconium aspiration, a condition in which the baby inhales meconium (the baby’s first bowel movement) before or during delivery.
- Increased risk of caesarean delivery – Women who are pregnant beyond 42 weeks are more likely to require a caesarean delivery. This is often due to difficulty with labor and delivery, or concerns about the baby’s well-being.
- Placental problems – The placenta may begin to deteriorate after 42 weeks, which can lead to decreased oxygen and nutrients to the baby. This can increase the risk of foetal distress and other complications.
- Neonatal complications – Babies born after 42 weeks may be at increased risk of complications such as low blood sugar, jaundice, and respiratory distress.
It is important for women who are pregnant to attend regular prenatal visits with their healthcare provider to monitor the progress of their pregnancy. If a pregnancy is found to be prolonged, the healthcare provider may recommend induction of labor to help reduce the risk of complications.