Where's That Royal Baby? Is Kate Overdue?

Where's That Royal Baby? Is Kate Overdue?

(AP) Where’s that royal baby? Is Kate overdue?
By MARIA CHENG
AP Medical Writer
LONDON
By the time you’re reading this, the Duchess of Cambridge could be in labor. Or it could be a matter of hours. Or days. Or weeks.

As Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Kate, await the birth of their first child–and the future heir to the English throne–some are convinced the royal due date has already passed, even though Buckingham Palace has not given an exact date. Many in the British media predicted the baby would be born last week and the prince himself is now on official leave.

Dozens of reporters have already staked out the central London hospital where Kate is expected to give birth. The palace has said only that the Duchess is due to deliver the baby in “mid-July.”

But experts say there’s no reason to think that the baby is actually overdue; due dates are at best an educated guess and come with a margin of error of two to three weeks.

An ultrasound done around weeks 11 to 12 of the pregnancy can also give women a better idea of when exactly to get the nursery ready, she said. A head measurement at that point is a better indicator of age than later in pregnancy.

For healthy pregnant women, as the Duchess of Cambridge appears to be, Fyle said they shouldn’t worry if they haven’t given birth by their predicted due date. Many things can delay birth, including the baby’s head being in the wrong spot. “It may just take the baby awhile to get into the right position before he or she is ready to come out,” she said.

Normal pregnancies last about 40 weeks, though 3 to 12 percent of women in the U.K. go beyond that term. After 41 to 42 weeks, doctors may consider inducing labor. Doctors or midwives typically induce labor with medications or other methods; it may still take one to two days for contractions to start.

In Britain, about 25 percent of all births are cesarean sections, versus 30 percent in the U.S. In 2011, Britain’s health watchdog decided women should be able to get a C-section on demand under the free health care service, though there is no indication whether the Duchess of Cambridge has requested one in the private wing of the hospital where she is expected to deliver.

Although the Duchess of Cambridge was hospitalized last December for severe morning sickness, Rajasingam said there’s no reason to think she might have a more difficult labor. Pregnant women are also advised to keep as active as possible even after their due date passes.

Rajasingam also said women having their first baby, as in the case of the Duchess, typically have a longer pregnancy than with subsequent children, though scientists aren’t exactly sure why. “It’s like a racehorse on a track,” she said. “For a horse that hasn’t run the race before, it can take a little bit longer if you’re not used to it,” she said.

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