Q: I'm past my due date. Should I get induced?

A: Although you're probably eager to get that baby out of you already, it's important to remember that your due date is just an approximation of when you'll have your baby -- not a hard-and-fast deadline. In fact, only about 5 percent of women actually deliver right on their due date, and having your baby up to two weeks earlier or later is totally normal.

As long as you and your baby are healthy and doing fine, doctors tend to recommend waiting a bit for labor to start on its own. But if you have conditions like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, or low amniotic fluid, which can make continuing your pregnancy risky, your doctor may recommend inducing you now.

On your due date and beyond, your doctor may perform a nonstress test or a biophysical profile to check your baby's heart rate and well-being. If your test results are abnormal (which means your baby may be having problems in there and may be better off being born), your doctor may decide to induce you that day. If all is well, your doctor may opt to continue waiting, especially if your cervix is not dilated at all or you're not showing any other signs of being ready for labor.

If you eventually reach the point where you are two weeks late, inducing labor will most likely be in everyone's best interest. Letting pregnancy go longer than 42 weeks can be problematic because the placenta can age and deteriorate, compromising your baby's blood and oxygen supply.

Copyright 2009

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