Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Post-Term Pregnancy
Full-term babies are delivered
sometime between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. (Those weeks are counted from
the first day of your last menstrual period.) A pregnancy that has
reached 42 or more weeks is called a "post-term" or "post-date" pregnancy. You
might also call it "overdue." Pregnancy that lasts beyond the due date is
most cases, there is no obvious cause of a post-term pregnancy.
Some post-term pregnancies are not truly post-term.
due date may not have been figured correctly. (Your due date is 40 completed weeks after
your last period. If you ovulated late in your cycle, your pregnancy didn't start as
early as this due date says.)
An ultrasound measurement of your fetus during
trimester can give the most accurate due date. But
even that due date is an estimate of when you might deliver.
Most often, a post-term baby is born in good health. But a very small
number of post-term pregnancies are linked to stillbirth and infant death. This is why your doctor or nurse-midwife
will watch you closely after 40 to 41 weeks.
Many doctors and nurse-midwives want to lower risks for the post-term baby by delivering by or
before 42 weeks. In most cases, watching and waiting is also fine. It is often
hard to know which choice is best during the 2 weeks after the due
For safety reasons, most health professionals will plan
to deliver a baby by 42 weeks, inducing labor if necessary.
Gülmezoglu AM, et al. (2012). Induction of labour for improving birth outcomes for women at or beyond term. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (6).
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofJune 8, 2016
Current as of:
June 8, 2016
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.