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Postterm Pregnancy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is post-term pregnancy?

Post-term pregnancy means your pregnancy continues to 42 weeks or longer. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. This is counted from the first day of the last period you had before you became pregnant. The cause of post-term pregnancy is not known. Your risk is higher if your mother had a post-term pregnancy with you. Your risk is higher in future pregnancies after you have had a post-term pregnancy.

How is post-term pregnancy diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your pregnancy. He or she will ask when you had your last period before you became pregnant. This is to help decide if your pregnancy is past 40 weeks along. An ultrasound early in your pregnancy can help providers decide your due date. You may not remember when you had your last period. You may also not have had an ultrasound early in your pregnancy. If this happens, your baby's length will be measured from the top of the head to the rump (bottom). Your provider may also check the size of your uterus. If the provider thinks your pregnancy is at least 42 weeks, the following will help check you and your baby:

How is post-term pregnancy treated?

If you and your baby are not having health problems, your provider may want to wait until labor starts naturally. He or she will check your baby often to make sure there are no problems. Tests may show that your baby is having problems or may grow too large for you to deliver safely. Your healthcare provider may want to induce (start) labor and deliver your baby. The following may be used to induce labor:

How can I care for myself while I wait for labor to start?

You may need to wait at home for your water to break. The following can help you be more comfortable while you wait:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my obstetrician?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.