As Pregnancy Awareness Week encouraged open conversations, it also brought up questions about traditional beliefs during post-term pregnancies.

Pregnancies that last beyond nine months or 42 weeks are considered post-term. While this is common, myths and misunderstandings are abound. Pregnancy Awareness Week is held each year from 10 to 16 February and encouraged education about pregnancy.

Mothers’ stories

Nozipho Mhlongo recalls how afraid she was when doctors asked her to return for weekly check0ups after she failed to give birth past nine months.

“I was so worried, stressed and confused that why am I taking more than nine months, even my husband and the rest of the family were also worried,” said the KwaZulu-Natal mother. “We have tried traditional means for me to be on labour but nothing worked.”

“But my hopes were higher for my baby every time when a doctor tells me that my baby was healthy and his heart was beating normal,” she tells Health-e News.

Doctors said the reason for her post-term pregnancy could be because she was carrying a boy.

“[This] made me even more confused because I have already had two boys before him who were both born in time,” he said.

There are a number of factors that lead to post-term pregnancies, according to Stanford Children’s Health. Pregnant women who are more likely to have a post term pregnancies if it is their first pregnancy, if they are overweight, or if they are carrying a boy. A family history of post-term pregnancies may also play a role.

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