A bit over 20 inches long, your baby has continued to grow and may now weigh almost 8 pounds. As cozy as he is, your baby can't stay inside you forever. For your baby's safety, your practitioner will talk with you about inducing labor if your baby isn't born in the next week — earlier if there are any problems. Most practitioners won't let you wait more than two weeks past your due date to give birth because it puts you and your baby at increased risk for complications. About 5 to 6 percent of women have prolonged pregnancies that extend three or more weeks beyond their estimated due dates. Babies born at 42 weeks and beyond can have dry parchment-like skin and are often overweight. Waiting that long to deliver also increases your chance of developing an infection in your uterus that could be dangerous for your baby or of having a stillbirth. What's more, your labor is more likely to be prolonged or stalled, both you and your baby have an increased risk of injury during a vaginal delivery, and you double your chances of needing a c-section.
How your life is changing:
It's hard not to be anxious when your due date comes and goes and you're still hugely pregnant (especially when well-meaning family and friends keep calling to check on your status!). But don't fret — you won't be pregnant forever. There's a good chance you'll go into labor on your own this week, and if you don't, you'll be induced by 42 weeks, or earlier if you or your baby has any problems.
The methods your practitioner uses to incduce labor will depend on the condition of your cervix. If your cervix hasn't started to soften, efface (thin out), or dilate (open), it's considered "unripe," or not yet ready for labor. In that case, your practitioner will use either hormones or "mechanical" methods to ripen your cervix before the induction. Sometimes these will end up jump-starting your labor as well. Depending on your situation, the procedures can include stripping or rupturing your membranes, or using drugs like oxytocin (Pitocin) to start your contractions. If these and other methods don't work, you'll end up having a c-section.
In the meantime, be sure to tell your practitioner immediately if your baby's movements slow down or if any fluid is leaking from your vagina.