What Happens If Delivery Is Delayed?

What Happens If Delivery Is Delayed?

Last update: 15 May, 2018

You may have asked yourself: What happens if the delivery is delayed? This is a valid question since a delay can bring along various risks for the baby.

Childbirth can be delayed due to many reasons. It is normal to be worried when the date your doctor indicated passes by without childbirth.

It is important for you to know the factors that can delay the birth of your child.

Since the placenta doesn’t work as well as it used to, there is a reduction of oxygen and nutrients for the baby. This can bring along various fetal complications.

Although you may not believe it, the delay of childbirth occurs quite frequently.

Three out of every 10 future mothers will give birth after their tentative date. This occurrence depends on many factors.

4 factors that can cause a delayed delivery

The most common factors for delayed childbirth are the following:


Doctors estimate that the pregnancy will occur 14 days after the last menstruation and that is how they predict a tentative delivery date.

However, only a few women have menstrual cycles that last exactly 28 days. This can cause errors when it comes to calculating the exact date of childbirth.

What Happens If Delivery Is Delayed?

First-time mothers

When it comes to first-time mothers, they’re more likely to give birth after 40 weeks.

First-time mothers need more time before their uterus is ready for childbirth. This is because they haven’t had previous births to prepare their uterus.

Stress and anxiety

This usually occurs in women who are afraid of childbirth due to what they’ve heard about other mothers’ experiences.

Therefore, it’s recommended for future mothers to be relaxed when the time comes to give birth.


If you had to take progesterone to avoid premature births or miscarriages, this could delay delivery.

What are the possible risks of delayed childbirth?

Some of the risks involved in delayed delivery are:

  • Increase in the baby’s weight and size. This can cause problems, preventing the baby from fitting properly in the pelvis. It can also require the performance of a cesarean.
  • Decreased amniotic fluid. This fluid covers the fetus, when it is reduced it can cause pressure on the umbilical cord which causes the placenta to age. As a result, there is a reduction in the supply of oxygen and nutrients which are vital for the baby.
  • Fetal distress. This occurs when the baby’s heart rate doesn’t react normally.
  • Contamination of the uterus with meconium. When the child spends more time than needed in the uterus, the baby may have its first bowl movement there expelling meconium (the baby’s first stool). The baby may then aspirate the meconium during birth.
  • Fetal death. This is a rare occurrence but the risks increase after the 42nd week of pregnancy.
What Happens If Delivery Is Delayed?

What should I do if the delivery is delayed?

There are many complications that can occur if delivery is delayed. After the 40th week passes, the doctor must check on the fetus and the mother to make sure everything is okay.

They may also consider performing an induced labor, cesarean section or whether to wait for labor to start naturally.

If you’re already close to your 42nd week of pregnancy and your doctor has decided to induce labor, there are several methods that can be used including the following:

  • Placing prostaglandins in the vagina which will cause contractions.
  • Administering oxytocin. Oxytocin is used intravenously to stimulate contractions.

A large percentage of women don’t remember the exact date of their last period and this makes it difficult to predict a precise date for birth.

In addition, not all women have identical and regular menstrual cycles. In most cases, an ultrasound is not performed early in the pregnancy to specify the probable delivery date.

Therefore, if you get to the 40th week of your pregnancy and there are still no signs that the birth is going to occur soon, does that mean your child’s delivery has been delayed?

The answer is no; it’s more likely that your tentative delivery date was miscalculated.

The tentative delivery date is an approximate calculation, and despite all of the risks that can occur if the delivery date is prolonged, the good news is that most babies are born healthy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.