Are you starting to feel like you should set your computer and phone up to auto-respond to emails and text messages with "no baby yet!"? Of course, now that you're two weeks past your original due date everyone will be wanting to know if Baby has arrived, and coupled with your own frustration that you're still not a Mom, you can be forgiven for being a little short tempered.
Fortunately, at this point you can be sure that your baby will definitely be making his or her long awaited appearance very soon. Even if your body doesn't go into labor naturally, your midwife will likely book you in for an induction that will artificially start your contractions, as it may be risky for Baby to stay in there for much longer.
Baby: What's Happening?
Your baby is continuing to grow, and babies who are born late are often a little larger than babies who arrived early or on time. Your baby could be between 8 and 9.5 lbs by now, and growth is one of the main reasons why it's recommended to medically induce overdue Moms-to-be.
Although larger babies of 10 lbs or more have been born via a natural delivery, the larger mass makes a safe vaginal birth much more difficult. Baby could become stuck or Mom could become too tired to keep pushing, and a caesarean section may be necessary. However, at 42 weeks this shouldn't be an issue.
Your baby will also be starting to dry out and wrinkle up in there. The vernix caseosa that protected Baby's fragile skin from the nine month amniotic bath has been missing for a few weeks now, and Baby's skin is starting to feel the effects. These effects are, of course, only temporary, but if Baby was to spend much longer inutero he or she could start to develop sores.
Whether there are long-lasting health issues arising from an overdue birth is not clear. Some studies claim there's a heightened risk of attention deficit disorder, and could also result in a stillbirth. Other studies claim there are no such effects and that if a baby remains in the womb after 42 weeks then they are just not ready to cope in the outside world quite yet.
Your baby's brain is continuing to develop and babies who are born at this time are usually much more alert than babies born earlier. Although all babies develop at their own pace outside of the womb, overdue babies may pick things up a little quicker as their tiny brains are a few weeks more mature than babies born right on time.
You: What's Happening?
It's probably safe to say that you're a little fed up now and are more anxious than ever to meet your little one. If you're feeling this way or if you're concerned about Baby staying put for much longer then you may wish to considered an induction.
The induction process is nothing to fear, and there are a number of methods depending on whether your body has already started to prepare on its own. If your cervix has started to thin out you may be hooked up to a drip that delivers oxytocin into your body. This is an artificial hormone that mimics those that initiate contractions. If your cervix isn't showing any signs of opening up, you may be given a pessary containing prostaglandins that not only help to ripen the cervix but also encourage contractions.
These methods do not guarantee that labor will begin, and in rare cases labor can fail to progress, fail to start altogether or stop after a successful start. In these cases, the only remaining option is to have a caesarean birth. Some women feel like a failure at this point, but that is absolutely not the case. You're doing what you need to do to bring your child safely into the world - where's the failure in that?
Some Moms-to-be reject offers of medical induction, and there's nothing wrong in doing so as long as you're aware of the associated risks of carrying a baby after 42 weeks. Modern research suggests that the concept of overdue risks is very outdated, and many Moms like to let nature take its course.
If you'd like to try some natural methods but are sick to your stomach of pineapple, couldn't stand to cook up another curry and are just too tired for sex, there are a few more natural ways to try and encourage labor. Firstly, nipple stimulation may be beneficial in encouraging the release of natural oxytocin. Secondly, taking a natural laxative such as castor oil could stimulate your bowels enough to kick off contractions. Neither method is scientifically proven, but it's something to try!
Whether you choose an induction or not, the long and short of it is that very soon you'll be holding your baby in your arms. Congratulations, Mamma! You did it!