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Is it safe to have a normal delivery after the due date?

Saturday, 20 March 2004
Answered by: Dr. Puneet Bedi
Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist,
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals,
New Delhi
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Q. My wife has completed 9 months and 6 days of her second pregnancy. She is yet to get her labour pains. She was told that she had a low placenta (ultrasound in the 6th month) but the recent ultrasound done 5 days back shows that the placenta has changed its location and the baby is in the right position. The doctor has advised to wait for normal delivery. As per this scan the expected due date is a few days from now. Is it safe to till then or should we go in for early delivery by inducing labour/or by operation? My wife is not having any bleeding or any major problem. She has no problem in waiting if it is safe. Please advise. (Our first baby was delivered by operation).

A.  Placental site as seen in the sixth month has to be completely disregarded. If the placenta is normally placed just forget about that aspect. The due date is calculated by the last period, the length of the cycle and an early ultrasound (the first ultrasound) and not at this stage (last month ultrasound is an inaccurate way of dating pregnancy). Whatever your treating doctor has told you in view of all these is the correct due date. Provided there are no high risk factors like blood pressure and diabetes there should be no risk to wait for the due date and up to one or two weeks beyond. Provided the fetal condition is OK as assessed by the treating physician. There is no need to panic. It is perfectly safe to wait for the 42nd week in normal pregnancy (a week to 2 weeks after the due date). Please wait up to a week or more after the due date for the labour to start if you want a normal delivery. If you have decided for a caesarian section one can plan a delivery whenever it is convenient provided the fetus has definitely finished 38 weeks (8 months and three weeks). Once you have had a caesarian section your best chance of having a normal delivery is if you wait for the onset of labour. Induction of labour will increase your chances of a repeat caesarian section. Meanwhile if you have any doubts you can get the health of the fetus assessed by doppler flow metry and Biphysical profile.

A.  Placental site as seen in the sixth month has to be completely disregarded. If the placenta is normally placed just forget about that aspect. The due date is calculated by the last period, the length of the cycle and an early ultrasound (the first ultrasound) and not at this stage (last month ultrasound is an inaccurate way of dating pregnancy). Whatever your treating doctor has told you in view of all these is the correct due date. Provided there are no high risk factors like blood pressure and diabetes there should be no risk to wait for the due date and up to one or two weeks beyond. Provided the fetal condition is OK as assessed by the treating physician. There is no need to panic. It is perfectly safe to wait for the 42nd week in normal pregnancy (a week to 2 weeks after the due date). Please wait up to a week or more after the due date for the labour to start if you want a normal delivery. If you have decided for a caesarian section one can plan a delivery whenever it is convenient provided the fetus has definitely finished 38 weeks (8 months and three weeks). Once you have had a caesarian section your best chance of having a normal delivery is if you wait for the onset of labour. Induction of labour will increase your chances of a repeat caesarian section. Meanwhile if you have any doubts you can get the health of the fetus assessed by doppler flow metry and Biphysical profile.

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