At 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant I had an appointment booked with my OBGYN. At this appointment, she checked me to see just how dilated I was, if I was effaced and a few other things just so she could see how close I actually was to the finish line of my pregnancy.
FINALLY! That was what I was thinking when I went in.
If I am being perfectly honest, and for those who have kept up with my journey so far you should know I usually am, I was excited for this because I heard the vaginal exam this close to a due date could fast forward the process a little bit. It’s a little uncomfortable having someone shove their hands inside you and this can cause the cervix to loosen and contractions to begin…
BRING IT ON!
After she checked me, I was a little disheartened. I was barely dilated. Less than a centimeter which basically meant there was no way a full term baby was getting through a one centimetre tunnel to find it’s way out to mommy. *SIGH* And I was less than 10% effaced.
Now you hear things like this and think… ‘Okay.’ Because in reality, you have absolutely no idea what any of this means. Don’t worry, me neither. Luckily for you, I have the kind of mind that just can’t function in confusion, so I tend to thoroughly research the answers to all the questions bouncing around in my head.
Let’s start with dilation. Basically this talks about our cervix. The base of the cervix for most women who are not pregnant is closed. This is to prevent infection and because there is never really a biological reason for anything to enter through the vagina, up into the cervix and into the uterus. (You know… except for those swimmers that get the whole thing going, but that is like squirting water up through a crack, which is easier and a lot more fun that getting a baby out of there.)
When you get close to the end of your pregnancy, the body releases hormones that begin to loosen the cervix which in turn, opens it up. It goes from the opening of a straw to one ten centimeters in diameter which seems to be enough to get a bouncing baby out of… I know right?
Now another word you’ll hear in the doctor’s office is effacement. Now this will be given to you in a percentage and it refers to the length of your cervix. So when you go into labour, not only does your cervix open but it shortens so the baby has less of a tunnel to travel through.
When I had first heard the word effacement I thought it had more to do with the placement of baby’s head. It wasn’t until later that I realized it was yet another way for them to measure your cervix.
Being so close to my due date and getting anxious, at this point, my doctor asked me if there was anything I wanted done to speed things along.
Of course before the question was even fully out of her mouth I was saying yes.
I had been at this game for 39 weeks and 4 days. I had withstood the nausea, the vomiting, the dizziness, the headaches, the cravings, the swollen ankles and feet, the mood swings, the constant discomfort, and at this point, so close to when they said I would have my baby in my arms, I was ready. I no longer wanted to wait. If they told me they could pull her out right then and there I would have given them the A-O-K!
So she did what they call a membrane sweep.
What is that?
Well, if you thought the vaginal exam she had just done on you was uncomfortable, buckle up! Because now she was going to go back in and sweep her hand around in there in hopes to separate the sac that is holding your baby from your cervix.
In addition to hopefully separating the sac, this often gets your hormones going and will start up contractions.
I left the doctor’s appointment more hopeful than I had been at any other appointment and feeling a little excited.
The finish line was closing in, and boy was I ready!