Has your due date already come and gone? That happens in 40% of all pregnancies and is no cause for concern. Pregnancies that continue for up to 14 days after the due date are known as late-term pregnancies – after that they are called post-term or prolonged pregnancies.
Your doctor will carry out tests at regular intervals. They will check whether your placenta is working properly and providing your child with sufficient oxygen and nutrients. Midway through the 41st week the doctor will generally induce the contractions to prevent you from having a prolonged pregnancy.
If your pregnancy is prolonged, there is a risk that the placenta will cease to be fully functional (placenta insufficiency). This may mean that your baby is no longer receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. But even if your placenta is working properly, post-term pregnancies are not without other risks, as the baby can continue growing and heavier children often lead to complications during birth.
It is not entirely known why some pregnancies significantly exceed their due date. Aspects related to the mother that appear to play a role include age, ethnicity, a higher body mass index and whether or not it is her first pregnancy. In relation to the child, its sex (boys are often late), hereditary factors and its growth can affect the length of the pregnancy.