Yesterday I had my 36 week appointment with my OB. For the vast majority of my pregnancy, my appointments have been frequent and relatively boring. Aside from the random ultrasound, they mostly consisted of giving a urine sample, getting weighed, having my blood pressure and pulse taken, being measured and having the doctor say, “You look great. How are you feeling? Great. Do you have any questions? Well, see you in X weeks.” Clothes on, barely got my pregnant butt up on the exam table before the appointment was over.
But this one was different. I knew that 36 weeks was when they do the Group B strep test, which is just a little swab to see if you are a carrier (as 30% women are) for a particular type of bacteria. No worries if the test comes back positive, you just get some antibiotics during labor so the bacteria isn’t passed on to your baby. But I knew that this test involved a little more than a “Hi, How are you?” from the doc. For the first time in my life, I was excited about an internal exam. Ha! Usually I dread them.
So after the normal rigamaroll, the doc went over the Group B strep info, and then did the swab (which, for those of you who care, was completely quick and painless — I barely felt a thing). Then she says, “Ok, all set. See you next week.” And I said, “Wait, aren’t you going to check my cervix?”. She said she usually checks at 36 or 37 weeks, but given my recent symptoms like upset stomach, diarrhea and cramping, she could check this week if I wanted her to.
With a smile on her face, she said, “Actually, Kate, your cervix is nice and soft… about 50% effaced already. That’s great news!”. Great news indeed. She said that from the looks of things, she does NOT expect me to be one of those women twiddling their thumbs waiting for the baby to come long after their due date. While a small change like 50% softening doesn’t really mean much at all, it is indicative that my body has started the hormonal changes necessary to start labor, which is great progress at 36 weeks.
Now before everyone starts commenting and saying “I was 100% effaced and dilated for 4 weeks and STILL had to be induced“, I know that this news doesn’t necessarily mean ANYTHING about when the baby will arrive. I could still be 50% effaced on my due date (or later) with no signs of anything changing. However, it was really exciting to hear, and that news, coupled with my recent symptoms and general feeling that this baby is coming early, is making me even more giddy about the next few weeks.
For those who have had babies, when did your cervix start to soften and dilate? How quickly did your labor progress from there? I know everyone is different, but it doesn’t hurt to get a little comparison data