BC & AD 37 – What may happen …

So let’s come back to here.
What may have happened before 37 weeks and what do you need to do?
Don’t panic that’s the first thing. Take a gentle breath and exhale … repeat again … until you feel a sense of calmness. Now start to think about what’s happened.

What has happened?
A trickle of waters?
A gush of waters?
Bright red blood?
Feeling unwell?
Swelling – face, hands ankles and feet (any of these or all of them or a combination of them)?
Sharp abdominal pains?

Which one of these would you be the most alarmed about?

Bright red blood.
You would contact your caregiver and advise labour ward that you are coming in.
Pop a pad in and keep an eye on what is happening. If you are filling a pad in a short period of time e.g. 15 minutes … do not hesitate in going in to be checked out and to make sure all is ok.
What happens from there depends on what is happening. If the baby or you are in danger then a crash section may be scheduled. This may be under general anaesthetic and would mean that your partner remains outside whilst the team deliver (birth) your baby. Sounds very scary and yes it can be but it’s better to know what could happen than to not and to understand why this may have to be the way your baby arrives earth side. We’ll talk about this in the Caesarean section.

So let’s look at that list again what would be the next thing that would alarm you?

Swelling Okay so this could be oedema however when there are a combination of things then it’s important to take this seriously.
You might have swelling that could be an indicator of pre-eclampsia. Again another condition not to ignore and to contact your caregiver to discuss and arrange to be checked.

Early signs of pre-eclampsia include having high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in your urine (proteinuria).
It’s unlikely that you’ll notice these signs, but they should be picked up during your routine antenatal appointments.

In some cases, further symptoms can develop, including:

  • swelling of the feet, ankles, face and hands caused by fluid retention (oedema)
  • severe headache
  • vision problems
  • pain just below the ribs

Here’s the NHS link to find out further information.

Actually you would be concerned if there was a trickle or gush of water. Absolutely.

So first things first when you are next at the £1 store buy yourself a couple of packs of puppy pads this is to make sure that when the time is nearer to your little bundles arrival that you have protected your bed & sofa.

Pop a large sanitary or incontinence pad in (I know it’s not glamourous but they are worth their weight in gold!) and also have a look in your knickers if you had them on but no pad in when this happened. Check the colour and odour of what is there. Amniotic fluid is clear and a pale straw colour. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between amniotic fluid and wee. The water may be a little bloodstained to begin with.

Tell your maternity unit immediately if:

  • the waters are smelly or coloured – or there looks like there is poo (meconium) in it
  • or you’re losing blood.

This could mean you and your baby need urgent attention.

Here’s a link to further information on what to look for, what happens when the waters break. It’s not always like you see on TV … https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/labour-birth/what-expect-when-your-waters-break

People sometimes discuss the fore and hind waters … this might help … https://www.bounty.com/pregnancy-and-birth/birth/in-labour/what-happens-when-your-waters-break

So these are events that could happen pre 37 weeks but they can also occur after 37 weeks. You would do exactly the same.

With the waters trickling or gushing then you would let you care provider know with an approximate time and then wait and see if labour kicks off. There are lots of things you can “do” to help stimulate contractions (wave, ripple, surge, tightenings). You could take this time to chill out, relax and just wait. Others, I know want to feel that they are doing as much as they can to start labour. If nothing is happening with 24 hours you are usually asked to go in to be checked and you may have to stay to be started off (induced). Make sure you are absolutely clued up on what that entails.

Just a side note on the waters – they will continue to come so be prepared with some large incontinence pads or knickers.

What happens when you are overdue?

Well i am hoping that the information you gathered when looking at your due date and the evidence that was linked has helped you to understand this grey area a little better. Again this is YOUR choice.
You will probably be offered a sweep by your midwife in order to stimulate. Remember that this is an intervention and a choice.
You may choose to decline sweeps and wait and see. Absolutely no way would they do an internal and suggest JUST while I am here I’ll do a sweep that is ASSAULT! That is not what you consented to.  It’s rare and the midwives I know personally would not do this however there have been reports in other areas of this happening.

Again I would click the Link so that you understand what the NICE Guidelines indicate.
The WHO states that full term is 42 weeks and then you could consider your options.
Ensure you understand the protocols that the local unit have and remember that it is all negotiable and you should not feel pressurised into making a decision. The norm is 40 + 10 days or 40 + 12 days and usually they book you in for induction. You can negotiate to continue to gather information through scans, traces and being checked by your caregivers. At no point should anyone being using language that makes you feel that you are hurting your baby etc