What to do when you go past your due date
Going past your due date can be frustrating, but fear not, Lizzie Catt has an action plan
You may be collapsed in a snoring heap, having an inappropriate pregnancy dream about Gary Barlow, when the clock strikes midnight on your due date. But if you’re awake, rubbing your cramping calves and glugging Gaviscon, you’ll almost certainly feel a little buzz of excitement as you wait for that first twinge. However, with most babies actually arriving within the 38- to 42-week window, you may find you have a little longer to wait. Here’s what to expect.
If you’re still pregnant on your due date, the midwife will offer you a membrane sweep. She inserts a finger into your cervix to separate the baby’s amniotic sac from the cervix, and this releases prostaglandins – hormones that will hopefully trigger labour. If the cervix hasn’t started ‘ripening’ – something you previously thought only happened to fruit and Camembert – she may not do anything, or may try to stretch the cervix. It’s a bit uncomfortable and messy, but who cares? After 40 long weeks, the baby is cooked, your hospital bag’s in the car and it’s time to go, go, go!
After a day spent checking for traffic alerts on all the possible routes to the hospital, you went to sleep with your shoes and bag neatly positioned by the door. But now you’ve woken up in your own bed, and still very much with child. Never mind – might as well lie in and check Facebook. ‘You had that baby yet? Push! LOL’ writes everyone you’ve ever met.
An NCT friend, due a week after you, has her baby. You have a bit of a cry and tearfully proposition your other half over your gigantic bump with the chat-up line, ‘But the midwife said semen might help!’ He suggests going for a walk.
Michelle Lyne, the Royal College of Midwives’ professional advisor for education, advises, ‘Sex can work, and especially if the woman has an orgasm. That’s because prostaglandins are released and this softens the cervix; and there are also prostaglandins in semen. Oxytocin is also released – it’s the natural form of Syntocinon, the drug put in the drip for the induction of labour. If a woman has an orgasm, she’s more likely to start to have contractions.’