Should I Be Dilated at 36 Weeks During the Third Pregnancy?

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Week 36 of your pregnancy is the final week in your gestational period before doctors consider you full-term. In response to the upcoming delivery, which typically happens around week 40, your body will start getting ready for the big event. With this being your third pregnancy, you may be surprised to find out you are already dilated.

Differences

Just like your second labor may have been different from your first one, your third one has the possibility of being different from both. The American Pregnancy Association reports every pregnancy can be different, distinct. If you didn’t dilate at 36 weeks in any of your other pregnancies, you can still dilate early with your third one.

Time Frame

In the 36th week, your baby may lower his head in preparation for delivery. For many moms, the baby may do more–he might actually drop lower in your uterus, according to the Care New England Health System website. Known as lightening, this can relieve some of your pregnancy symptoms like shortness of breath, but the increased pressure on your bladder can make you need to use the bathroom more frequently. Braxton-Hicks contractions, which can feel like labor, may begin occurring.

Significance

According to the Mayo Clinic, dilation is one part of the process that begins labor. It occurs when your cervix begins to open, or dilate. Your doctor will measure the opening in centimeters to determine the degree of dilation. During labor, contractions will force the opening to reach its widest point, at 10 centimeters (cm).

Misconceptions

You may think dilation means you are in labor or that your baby is on its way. The Mayo Clinic reports a woman can be dilated 2cm to 3cm for several weeks prior to delivery, which means your cervix can dilate at week 36. Without other labor signs present, such as effacement and contractions, the dilation is something you can discuss with your doctor, but it shouldn’t be cause for alarm.

Considerations

For some women, dilation occurring at pregnancy week 36 can require preventive steps to hold off labor, according to Dr. Charles Anderson, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Abilene, Texas. Your doctor may recommend bed rest or limited physical activity. This most often occurs when other labor signs are present. If you have a bloody show, vaginal bleeding or pinkish discoloration showing up on toilet paper or in your underwear, your doctor may suggest preventive measures, including admitting you to the hospital for monitoring.

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