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If the average pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, you can be said to be overdue if you exceed this.

However, because this 40 weeks is based on an average menstrual cycle of 28 days, the length of your particular average cycle will have to be taken into account when calculating whether or not you are actually overdue.

It is usual for a woman to go to 42 weeks before inducing labour, after which time the placenta may begin to work less efficiently, thus potentially putting the baby at risk. With the use of ultrasound estimated delivery dates are now generally much more reliable. Babies should only ever be induced when it is necessary for their safety.

You can try to induce labour naturally in a number of ways:


  • making love: semen contains small amounts of prostaglandins, which help to 'soften' the cervix;
  • nipple stimulation can release the hormone prolactin, which also softens the cervix (although stimulation has to continue for some time to achieve this effect);
  • homoeopathy: a qualified homoeopath can recommend which remedy would be best for you;
  • acupuncture has shown good results, so is worth a try;
  • reflexology: a skilled practitioner can help;
  • raspberry leaf tea: you need to start drinking this some time before your due date if it is to be effective in toning the uterus in preparation for labour and the birth.

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