When do you think I will go into active labor?

Patient

Q: I am 36 weeks pregnant, my cervix is effaced but not dialated, I am having period like pains that make my belly go hard but they are not very consistent, I also have extreme pressure in my vagina because he is head down and right against my cervix and right now feels like some stretching too. With all these symptoms how long do you think it will take me to go into active labor ?

Symptoms:  Vaginal pressure and stretching, period like cramps, belly hardens, groain pain
Doctor

A:   Hello,
Thanks for contacting askthedoctor.
I understand that you are 36 weeks pregnant presently with cervical effacement but no dilatation yet. The abdominal cramps that you are having are called uterine contractions which indicate onset of latent phase of labour. These contractions are initially mild and less frequent. A lady is said to go into active phase of labour if these contractions reach a frequency of 3-4 contractions of moderate intensity lasting for 40-45 sec with a interval of less than 2 min in 10 min. Also when the cervical dilatation crosses 3 cm. These are termed as adequate contractions of active phase and delivery is imminent.

The pressure you are feeling at the vagina is rightly put by you as the pressing fetal head which is trying to negotiate through the birth canal. It stretches the cervix thereby dilating it slowly. The rate of dilatation is about 1cm/hr in primi and 1.5-2cm in multi gravida (who has been pregnant once already).

At 36 weeks, you seem to be undergoing preterm labour at present. It would be wise on your part to report to the ER immediately for a pelvic assessment and fetal well being by your physician to correctly assess the status of labour and then further course of action to be planned by your physician.
Also would like to apprise you, if the delivery ensues, the baby born would be preterm and may require support of a neonatal ICU for at least a week or so if need be. So just be mentally prepared.
I hope I have answered your query in detail and if needed, please feel free to contact askthedoctor.com for further queries.
Wishing you a joyous outcome and best of health.
Regards.

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