Jay Goldberg (Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) gives expert video advice on: What is a "post-term pregnancy"?; What is the prognosis for my baby if I have a post-term pregnancy?
What is a "post-term pregnancy"?
Post-term pregnancy is pregnancy after forty weeks. Pregnancy is forty weeks long and any time after forty weeks is post-term. Most doctors will not allow a pregnancy to go beyond forty-two weeks. Beyond forty-two weeks in a post-term pregnancy, the placenta is ageing considerably, the baby is growing, the baby is more likely to poop inside -- a meconium -- and so the risks of something bad like an intra-uterine foetal demise, or death of a baby, increase significantly beyond forty-two weeks in a post term pregnancy. So most physicians will recommend at forty weeks to consider the possibility of induction, and based on the baby's size, the fluid around the baby, the position of the baby and such, the doctor will then allow you to go a certain period of time beyond forty weeks of post term pregnancy.
What is the prognosis for my baby if I have a post-term pregnancy?
If you have a post-term pregnancy, most doctors will probably see you two times a week. Sometimes they'll perform an ultrasound; sometimes they'll perform what's called a non-stress test. This is a test where they'll place two belts on your belly and one will monitor the baby's heart rate, and the other will monitor the baby's contractions. The prognosis is excellent. Your baby should be fine if you go beyond your due date, because no one's perfect and maybe your due date is a week later than the 40 weeks we'd thought. The evaluation of the baby, at least once a week and sometimes even twice a week, is the safest thing to do to make sure that the fluid around the baby is adequate and to make sure that the baby's heart rate is well, reassuring, and doesn't show any signs of distress. So, I would say that your prognosis for a healthy pregnancy beyond 40 weeks is excellent.