Most pregnancies last 37 to 42 weeks. Your pregnancy is post-term (or post-date) when you are at 42 or more weeks. When you get to 40 weeks, your doctor will look at your health and the baby's health and decide whether to wait for natural labor.
You may have tests to make sure everything is okay. If you and the baby have no problems, you may be told to wait for natural labor. But if the doctor thinks it would be safer for you and your baby if you deliver sooner rather than later, then you may get medicine to start (induce) your labor. If the medicine doesn't start your labor or labor doesn't keep going, you may have a cesarean section (C-section). This is surgery to deliver the baby.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Follow your doctor's directions for activity while at home.
- Get lots of rest, eat well, and make sure to drink plenty of fluids.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means you are soaking through a pad each hour for 2 or more hours.
- You have sudden, severe pain in your belly or pelvis.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have any vaginal bleeding.
- You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
- You have pain in your belly, pelvis, or lower back.
- You think that you are in labor.
- You have a sudden release of fluid from your vagina.
- You've been having regular contractions for an hour. This means that you've had at least 8 contractions within 1 hour or at least 4 contractions within 20 minutes, even after you change your position and drink fluids.
- You notice that your baby has stopped moving or is moving much less than normal.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Where can you learn more?
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