Most people are aware that a typical pregnancy should last approximately nine months, or about 40 weeks. When a pregnancy lasts longer than 42 weeks, the health of the mother and her baby may be at risk. Generally speaking, the longer the pregnancy lasts beyond 42 weeks, the more dangerous it is. Such pregnancies are referred to as post term pregnancies.
Post Term Pregnancy Symptoms and Risk Factors
The primary symptom of a post term pregnancy, also known as a post-partum pregnancy, occurs when a pregnancy lasts longer than 42 weeks without showing significant signs of labor.
A woman’s attending medical personnel should frequently monitor the progress of her pregnancy. When it becomes evident that she will not give birth with in the standard 38 to 42 weeks, her attending medical professionals should take steps to help her deliver the baby safely.
The risk factors associated with post term pregnancy include:
- Age of the mother
- Certain medical conditions, such as impaired glucose tolerance
- Family history of post term pregnancy
- Physiological conditions which prevent the cervix from opening properly
- Previous post term pregnancy
Health Risks Associated with Post Term Pregnancy
The potential health risks associated with post-term pregnancy include:
- Baby becoming lodged in the birth canal – One of the primary concerns stemming from post term pregnancy is the possibility that the baby may become lodged in the birth canal. There are several reasons this may happen, including a condition called cephalopelvic disproportion. Cephalopelvic disproportion occurs when the baby’s head is too large to pass through the birth canal. If this occurs, your doctor may need to use forceps to deliver the baby or may recommend a caesarian section.
- Perineal injury – The longer a fetus remains in utero, the more it grows. When a baby remains in utero significantly longer than 40 weeks, there is an increased risk of injury to the mother’s perineum upon giving birth.
- Cervical rupture – Because of their large size, the delivery of a post term baby may also result in an increased likelihood that the mother will experience cervical rupture.
Additional health risks to the baby in a post term pregnancy Include:
- Cerebral palsy and other developmental delays
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
- Post-maturity syndrome – This can occur when the baby does not get sufficient oxygen while in the womb and begins to suffer from fetal distress. Occurs in about 1 out of every 5 post term pregnancies
- Shoulder dystocia
Post Term Pregnancy and Cerebral Palsy
A baby’s suffering from a lack of oxygen in the womb is a very serious situation, and can result in any of a number of birth injuries, including cerebral palsy.
Combined with the increased probability that a baby will be delivered using medical instruments (such as forceps) after a post term pregnancy, the chances that a child will suffer from a birth injury, such as cerebral palsy, after a post term pregnancy are heightened.
Post Term Pregnancy and Medical Malpractice
Your attending medical professionals should continuously monitor the progress of your pregnancy and labor, and should take proactive steps when it becomes clear that you are entering into a post term pregnancy.
If your child has suffered from a birth injury after a post term pregnancy, the negligence of your attending medical professionals may be to blame. Contact a qualified birth injury attorney today to discuss your case, and to learn if you may be entitled to significant compensation.