What Can You Do When Your Pregnancy Is Overdue?

pregnant woman ironing and doing chores at home
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The end of pregnancy can seem like an eternity. The closer you get to your due date, and especially when you're past your due date, the more the days seem to drag on and on. This isn't made any easier when people ask you when you were due or how many babies you're carrying.

Fortunately, there are many ways to stay occupied when you are waiting for your overdue baby—and even a few ways you might be able to jumpstart labor.

What Is an Overdue Pregnancy?

A full-term pregnancy typically lasts between 39 and 41 weeks. Babies born past 40 weeks or 280 days are considered "overdue." While a late-term or post-term pregnancy does come with some risks, the length of pregnancy actually varies more widely than people may realize. In fact, many doctors will not take measures to induce labor until around the 42-week mark.

But that fact may not bring much comfort to a pregnant person who is not getting around well, is having trouble sleeping, or just feeling the uncomfortable symptoms of late pregnancy.

Things to Do During an Overdue Pregnancy

If your baby is overdue, it's helpful to find ways to pass the time and stay comfortable during those final days of pregnancy. Some will keep your mind off the overdue pregnancy. Others will help you be more prepared for your baby's arrival. There are even a few tips that may help you bring on labor naturally.

But first a note: As with anything related to your pregnancy, always follow your doctor's recommendations to keep you and your baby safe and healthy. Always get your doctor's approval for exercise and other activities during pregnancy.

Stay Busy

It's normal to feel anxious as the days add up past your due date. Finding ways to pass the time and stay occupied can help. Here are a few ideas to keep busy until labor begins:

  • Binge-watch the latest TV series.
  • Call and catch up with an old friend.
  • Check out a movie at a local theater.
  • Clean out the fridge and pantry.
  • Do a favorite hobby or pick up a new one such as painting, knitting, or baking, for example.
  • Get some quality playtime with your pets or older children.
  • Go for a walk in your neighborhood or the local park.
  • Go window shopping or online browsing.
  • Listen to your favorite music and make a playlist for labor.
  • Make some meals and freeze them for after the baby's arrival.
  • Print out easy, healthy recipes to make when the baby arrives.
  • Read a book that's been collecting dust on the bookshelf.

Prepare for Baby

Most new parents will say there was something more they could have done to be more prepared for their baby. If your baby is overdue, use the extra time to get organized. You will appreciate the extra prep—especially during those first few days and nights when rest may be hard to come by.

  • Go over your list of baby names one more time.
  • Learn how to time contractions.
  • Read a book about what to expect with a newborn.
  • Join online parenting support groups.
  • Make a list of addresses to send birth announcements.
  • Install the baby's car seat in the car and get it checked by a certified technician.
  • Shop for nursing bras.
  • Pack a birth bag for you and hospital bag for your partner.
  • Put together any unmade furniture.
  • Start working on the baby book.
  • Stock up on diapers, wipes, and diaper cream.
  • Wash and put away your baby's clothes.
  • Write or update your birth plan.

Treat Yourself

The last few days spent waiting for baby are a good time to pamper yourself and do the things you may not have time for once the baby is here. Here are some simple ways to incorporate self-care into the final phase of an overdue pregnancy:

Bring on Labor

If you're really uncomfortable and ready for your overdue baby's debut, there are natural things you can do to potentially jumpstart labor.

  • Eat something spicy.
  • Engage in strenuous exercise that is approved by a doctor.
  • Go for a bumpy car ride.
  • Go for a walk around the block.
  • Have an impromptu dance party at home.
  • Have sex.

Before attempting any of these techniques, check with your doctor to make sure it's safe for you.

How to Cope

Even with these helpful distractions, a bit of discomfort and anxiety during an overdue pregnancy is understandable. To be in the best mindset for labor, try to remain as relaxed as possible. Wear comfortable clothing. Stay cool and hydrated.

Try guided meditation and other mindfulness techniques to keep stress at bay and stay calm and present. Lean on your "village" for love and support, and stay in contact with your doctor if anything changes with your pregnancy.

When to Call Your Doctor

While due dates are just an estimate, it's important to keep your medical team updated on your overdue pregnancy and call your doctor if you have any concerning pregnancy signs or symptoms, including:

  • Contractions
  • Decrease in baby's movements
  • Gush of fluid
  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Sudden/severe headache
  • Pain

Contact your medical team immediately if you have pain or other concerning pregnancy signs or symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

While it's natural to become anxious when a pregnancy is overdue, it's important to prioritize activities that help you stay calm and comfortable. Self-care activities, favorite hobbies, and preparing for the birth are all great ways to stay occupied and make good use of this time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you bring on labor in an overdue pregnancy?

    If your doctor approves, there are some natural ways to bring on labor. You can do some strenuous exercise or have a dance party. Going for a bumpy car ride and eating something spicy are also said to jumpstart labor for an overdue baby. Sex is another option that is safe for the baby and fun for you and your partner.

  • How long can you go overdue when you're pregnant?

    The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says it is valid to induce labor at around the 41-week mark and recommends induction at 42 weeks. After that, the risk of stillbirth and other complications increases.

    In some cases, your doctor may recommend an early delivery if you or your baby is experiencing certain health conditions including preeclampsia, placenta previa, or if there is too little or too much amniotic fluid.

  • How do you cope with an overdue pregnancy?

    When your baby is overdue and it seems like it's taking forever for labor to start, try to stay busy. Use those last few days to organize the nursery and prepare everything you'll need for the hospital and the ride home.

    Connect with friends and family that you haven't spoken to in a while. And finally, take care of yourself. This is such a special time for you and your baby. Treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, or massage to show yourself some love during this amazing (and tiring) milestone.

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Labor Induction. Last reviewed June 2018.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.