Kate was a week past due date when she gave birth to Baby Cambridge, Kensington Palace sources have confirmed.
It is thought she was 41 weeks pregnant when she went into labour. Although many think of that as overdue, “a normal pregnancy is anything from 38-42 weeks,” midwife Sue Thompson tells us. So actually, she continues, “anything past 42 weeks is classed as overdue.”
In fact, only about 5% of women give birth on their actual due date.
Most women will go into labour by the time they are 42 weeks. If they don’t, they will usually be offered a membrane sweep or to have their labour induced because doctors worry about the placenta after this stage. Other complications after 42 weeks include a slightly higher risk of stillbirth and difficulties delivering big babies.
Recent research has shown that first-time mothers are more likely to have late babies – Allen Downey from Franklin W Olin College of Engineering found that firstborns have a 15 to 16% chance of coming late, compared with 9 or 10% for other babies.
But it is a woman’s body that kick-starts labour. “Your baby is just sitting there waiting for a green light from you. Labour is actually initated by a hormone sent from your nervous system to your baby,” midwife Sue explains. But, “there’s no way of knowing what makes the brain tell the body to start labour. We have to wait for that hormone reaction to trigger things off.”
As for Kate’s baby, Prince William joked about his lateness: “I’ll remind him of his tardiness when he’s a bit older,” he said yesterday as he stood outside of the Lindo Wing with new Baby Cambridge.