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What is post-term pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a time of excitement and anticipation. Most to-be parents keep counting the days to the birth of their child. “Usually, the due date is calculated as 280 days or 40 weeks from the past menstrual cycle. The baby is expected to be full-term after the 38th week,” says Dr Kiran Coelho, head of department of Gynaecology, Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai.

But, not all births happen according to this calculation. For instance, take the case of actor Chhavi Mittal who recently delivered a boy. She had a post-term pregnancy and shared her experience on social media. A pregnancy that extends to 42 weeks is referred to as a post-term pregnancy, and it is not unusual among Indian women.

“It can be a very anxious time for the mother and can be dangerous for the baby if not closely monitored. The placenta ages after the 40th week and can calcify, leading to a reduction in the amount of blood supplied to the baby. This can cause the child to go into foetal distress. The chances of faeces getting into the placenta is also high,” she explains. Once the baby reaches full-term, there should be regular tests done to keep a check on the heart and breathing rate, to ensure the health of the child. “According to these tests, doctors give a biophysical score. If the score is good, it means the baby is healthy,” she says.

The reason for post-term pregnancy is not known. “It can be hereditary. If a woman has a history of post-term pregnancy, then chances of recurrence are high. It can also happen if the woman has a narrow pelvis, in which case the head of the baby may not fit in, thus leading to the cervix not opening up. It is also seen among women with irregular menstrual cycles.”

Dr Kiran says that she will not recommend waiting for more than a week after the due date. “I would recommend inducing labour to deliver the baby in such a case.”

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 10:30:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/what-is-post-term-pregnancy/article27260160.ece

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