Kate to be induced within days if labour hasn't begun
Kate Middleton could be induced as early as this week, with experts suggesting that doctors are unlikely to risk allowing her to go too far beyond her due date.
Although the royal baby's exact due date has never been confirmed, it is widely believed that Ms Middleton, right, is now several days overdue.
Sources who have had their children at the private Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, where she is expected to give birth, said its policy was to wait no longer than a week before inducing labour.
One said: "She will be given a choice of dates so she can choose when is most convenient, but the longest they would wait is a week."
Ms Middleton is being closely monitored by two gynaecologists, Marcus Setchell and Alan Farthing, who will have discussed with her how long they are prepared to wait.
Louise Silverton, the director of midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said that if a pregnancy progressed a week beyond the due date, or 40 weeks, there was a risk that the unborn baby would not be fully supported.
"The baby's movements and heart beat would be monitored every two days," she said. "The risks do increase and I would think it unlikely that with someone as high-profile as the duchess that they would let it progress to 42 weeks."
Dr Patrick O'Brian, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said that about two-thirds of first-time mothers gave birth after their due date and only one-third before.
"They are often given another scan just to check that the baby is growing," he said. "But if everything is well there is often no reason to interfere."
Sources have indicated that the duchess's due date was July 19, although Kensington Palace has only ever talked of "mid-July".
Queen Elizabeth has admitted that she is hoping it is born before she goes on her summer break to Balmoral on Friday.