She Says… Ready… Set…

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 🙂

22 responses to “She Says… Ready… Set…

  1. Love how you ASKED for a cervix check….that’s great! At least you’re able to speak up for what you want and ask the right questions.

  2. Hi Kate!
    I’m happy for you! Hope everything continues to go smoothly!
    I am 10 weeks today, so I still don’t have that data to give you!! haha

  3. Hi.. I was 1cm dilated at Week 32 and remained as it is until I was being induced at Week 40 Day 5. OB broke my water bag and put me on syntocinon drip. My labour is 3.5hrs in total from stage 1 to stage 3, the delivery of placenta. Good luck on yours! Enjoy your pregnancy while you can.

  4. I went into early labor at 34 weeks 6 days and was a “fingertip” dilated-no clue how effaced I was. They stopped labor with some drugs, put me on bedrest and 20 hours after bedrest being lifted, my water broke at 37 weeks and 1 day.

    My sister, however, went 2 weeks over and was pregnant 5 weeks longer than me-poor thing 😦

  5. When I went in at 37 weeks I was 1cm dilated (she didn’t tell me how effaced I was, I had to demand she even check my dilation). I gave birth a week later. I had about 16 hours of early labor (which was so low key I wasn’t even sure it was labor and worked through all day – I even went to dinner that night, only hours before active labor began). Then we had 15 hours of active labor, 11 of it at home with our doula. It was really intense because I was having back labor (the baby was posterior facing). When I got to the hospital I was already 8cm dilated. I labored 4 hours in the hospital before pushing for 2.5 hours. I never took anything and it was truly harrowing, but I got through it and Isa’s arrival was worth every minute of it. She just turned one month yesterday and she is the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. GOOD LUCK!

    Kait @

  6. At just past 36 weeks I was checked, and NOTHING was happening. My water broke 2 days later at 6 a.m. and I had a baby by 11:30 – so who knows! All the best to you, this is sure to be an exciting time.

  7. Hee hee. I went in for my 37 week checkup and they said nothing was happening, and it would likely be a few more weeks. My son was born 48 hours later.

  8. LOL! I will spare you all of my I was this much on this date and then this happened! YAY for progress!! That IS a great feeling, to know your body is already cooperating and to be reassured that there will be an end to pregnancy, and that baby WILL come out! Not much longer now 🙂

  9. My cervix never did a thing. No softening, no dilation, nothing. When I was checked 2 weeks past my due date w/ my first child and still nothing, my doc thought it was time to induce me. Ended up having an uplanned c-section. I had a planned c-section w/ baby #2 at 39 weeks and cervix was doing nothing then either.

    Good luck and I hope it happens soon for you. My first child was due on 8/26 and didn’t arrive ’til 9/9, so I know how uncomfortable it is to be 40+ weeks pregnant in this heat!!

  10. At my 36 week appointment, the doctor said I was “100% effaced, 1.5 dilated, and + 2 station. It could be any day now.”

    I went in to labor two evenings later! SO, get excited, because it definitely can mean something!

    If you make it to 37 weeks, ask her what your station is (how far down the baby has moved). Apparently, that one is really important too. I had experienced some really serious contractions before my 36 week appointment and the doctor said that’s why…I noticed you said you had some big braxton hicks. Maybe they’re not braxton hicks…maybe they’re REAL contractions gearing you up for the big day?

  11. With my first baby, I was 1cm dilated and 0% effaced at around 38 weeks. I was induced at 41.5 weeks and from the start of active labor to final delivery it was about 3.5 hours (no epidural, pushing for 45 minutes). With baby #2 I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced from about 36 weeks and he came 2 days early. Much longer labor the second time (but only 90 seconds of pushing, haha). Good luck!

  12. With my son I was dialated 4 cm and about 50% effaced at my 37 week check-up, I went into labor 10 days early (my water broke). I am cuurently almost 39 weeks pregnant with my second and was just told Tuesday I am 3 cm dialated and 80% effaced. I am really thinking any day now but who knows!

  13. My story is exactly what you asked NOT to hear 🙂 At 36 weeks, I was 1cm and soft. At 38 weeks, I was 2cm and 80% effaced. Due date came and went. 10 days past EDD, I went to be induced. 36 hours later, I had my baby. She’s a very stubborn baby though, so hopefully yours will be nicer to you. 30 hours into my induction, I was still at 2cm. I honestly thought that I was incapable of becoming “unpregnant” and was going to get a show on TLC about being the only living person to be pregnant forever.

    Just don’t drive yourself crazy trying old wives tales to induce labor. Other than sex, it’s all a bunch of baloney. But if eating labor cookies is your thing, enjoy 🙂

  14. I was 60% effaced at 36 weeks and dilated to 2 at 37. I had no progress between then and my due date, when I went into labor at 1 AM and L was born six hours later. The important thing at this point is the reassurance that your body is preparing for labor and delivery, and it sounds like that is happening!! How exciting!

  15. During all my appointments I was never dilated but was always “soft” and “short”. It was very tough to keep waiting! I ended up being induced at 41 weeks, but turns out I was in pre-labor so I never needed pitocin. Cervadil kicked me into active labor in 3 hours and then I was in active labor for 10 hours and pushed for 20 minutes. I got an epidural 3 hours into active labor and it made it soooooo much better!

    Good luck with it! Try to rest as much as you can!!!!!

  16. My story is one you don’t want to hear either.

    At 32 weeks, I began to have measurable contractions, not just braxton-hicks, but actually consistent painful contractions. They told me to take it easy and got paperwork in order for me to take early maternity leave because nobody thought I’d make it past 36 weeks.

    Week 36 came and went, still 70% effaced, barely dilated, still having contractions, still on maternity leave. Week 37 came and went, a little more effaced, same dilation, more contractions. Week 38. Week 39. Week 40.

    At 40 weeks and 6 days, I woke up with a really awful contraction, but went back to sleep a minute later. Ten hours after that, I told my husband that I thought this was it, and we went to the hospital. I walked in at 9 centimeters dilated, fully effaced, and nearly gave birth squatting in the doorway as a tour group of pregnant women walked by. So even though it took forever to get to the real hardcore labor, once I did, it went fast!

  17. Oh that’s wonderful news! 🙂 That’s interesting because I have had achy type menstrual cramps really low and gassy kind of stomach cramps & loose BMs for a few weeks now and I wonder if that’s what it is! I haven’t been checked yet.

    Actually we do our “own” GBS test ourselves in the bathroom at the docs office, same with the urine sample to check for proteins (we do the urine protein test every visit when we arrive at the office ourselves in the bathroom and check the PH on a colour chart). She gave me the swab kit for GBS, told me what to do and I did it in the bathroom on my way out and gave it to the nurse to send in for testing. I should get my results back at tomorrow’s appointment.

    I’m going to ask her about the achy symptoms. Last time I asked the nurse (who does the initial BP, weight, doppler, belly measure before the doc comes in) and she didn’t really say anything, just tried to figure out if I was having contractions which I didn’t think it was. Actually I asked her if it’s still possible to have round ligament pain at this stage and the nurse said it was because the weight of the baby tugs on your uterus and I forgot to ask the doc when she came in after that.

    That’s great news Kate!! I’ve been having suspicions that I won’t be one of those overdue situations either *fingers crossed*

  18. Hmmm…. I’m trying to remember (yes it was only five months ago, but I still forget). I don’t think I had my cervix checked until 39 weeks, three days before my due date (which is when H was actually born). I was 75% effaced at that point, three cm dilated. Btw – that’s great news what your doctor said about it being a sign of good progress!

  19. How exciting! I don’t have any data to contribute, but I love reading all the comments anyhow!

  20. Oh my goodness how exciting!

    I don’t have data for you but I’m at 32 weeks and my appointment is on Tuesday. I’ve noticed alot of ‘softening’ myself and wonder what it means. I can’t wait to hear about your progress!

  21. With my first pregnancy I was 50% effaced and 2-3 cm for a few weeks beginning around 35 weeks. Then my water broke on its own in the middle of the night at 37w6d. My son was born a handful of hours later, at 38w0d. I was paranoid about my water breaking in bed so I had been sleeping on towels for a few weeks. THANKFULLY. Because my fear came true. I gathered up my towels and waddled like a sumo to the bathroom where I called my OB.

    I am also 36 weeks pg now and am 1cm dilated per my last internal exam.

    Hope you have a great L&D!

  22. Hey i got the same exciting news yesterday at my appt. Im really hoping i dont go further than 40 wks! Good luck to you 🙂

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