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What if My Baby Isn't Born by My Due Date?

Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD

What if My Baby Is "Late"?

Very few pregnant women deliver on their estimated due dates. Many first-time moms find themselves waiting up to 2 weeks after their due date for their baby to arrive.

If you don't go into labor within a week after your due date, your doctor may recommend a nonstress test. This monitors fetal heart rate and movement to see how the baby is doing. They may add an ultrasound to the nonstress test to take a better look at the baby and the amniotic fluid (this is called a biophysical profile). Talk to your doctor to find out more about these tests.

Sometimes moms need a little help to get their labor going. If their health or their baby's require it, a doctor may induce labor. This can be done by:

  • “ripening” the cervix, which means making it soft, thinned out, and ready for delivery. This can be done by giving the mom a hormone called prostaglandin (inserted into the vagina or taken by mouth), or by inserting a small tube (catheter) into the vagina with an inflatable balloon that slowly stretches the cervix open.
  • stripping the membranes. The doctor can separate the amniotic sac from the wall of the uterus by sweeping a gloved finger between them. This triggers the body to release its own prostaglandin, which then prepares the cervix for delivery and may bring on contractions.
  • breaking your water (also called an amniotomy). The doctor makes a small hole in the amniotic sac with a special tool.
  • stimulating contractions of the uterus. To do this, the mom gets a hormone called oxytocin (Pitocin) through an IV line.
Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2024