Late-Term Pregnancy Risks & What You Should Know

A pregnancy is considered late-term once it reaches the 41-week mark. This is considered to be one week past due. It is important to understand the increased risks of complications that begin to emerge once a pregnancy becomes late-term so that you can be prepared for anything that might happen. Here are three of the most common late-term pregnancy risks and what you need to know about them.

Larger Than Average

The most obvious result of a late-term pregnancy is a bigger baby. While a larger than average baby does not always pose inherent risks, it does lead to an increased chance of a c-section. Because of the recovery process after a c-section is longer and more involved than a woman who gives birth vaginally, many mothers prefer to avoid this surgical option. A larger than average baby will also increase the chances of shoulder dystocia. This means that the shoulder gets stuck behind the pelvic bone during delivery, necessitating further interventions.

Birth Asphyxia

One risk during late-term pregnancy is a condition known as birth asphyxia, in which the baby is at risk of being deprived of oxygen. Being deprived of oxygen during the birthing process can harm a baby. The amount of harm is dependent on how long the baby goes without oxygen, how low the levels dropped, and how quickly the correct treatment is administered. If the baby goes a substantial amount of time without oxygen, he or she may suffer from permanent injury to the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, or other organs.

Low Amniotic Fluid

As the baby continues to grow at a fast rate, it is not uncommon for the amniotic fluid levels to drop. The clinical term assigned to low levels of amniotic fluid is oligohydramnios. One of the reasons for this drop is a declining placental function. Amniotic fluid levels may decrease by half once the baby reaches the due date, making it important that this critical function is continually monitored during a late-term pregnancy. Low amniotic fluid may increase the chances of labor complications such as umbilical cord compression.

It is understandable that a due date that has come and gone can bring about anxiety for a mom-to-be. Be sure to keep in close contact with your healthcare provider so that you are confident that you and your baby are getting the care that you need to ensure a healthy delivery.

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