Your first pregnancy will bring so many surprises because your body goes through a serious change and hormones fluctuate like anything. It is obvious to feel concerned and worried when you learn about something new, something like your cervix is very soft and thin and is 1 cm dilated. This can happen due to many different reasons, but you may experience this situation during 38 weeks of pregnancy. What exactly does it mean to have soft cervix at 38 weeks? Does this mean you might go to labor early? Keep reading to learn more.
What Does Soft Cervix at 38 Weeks Mean?
Your cervix goes through a number of changes late in your pregnancy. It usually dilates to give baby way to pass through, but it's not always soft, thin, and dilated. Cervix is normally a hard structure and maintains a round shape to hold the baby, placenta, and fluid for 9 months. The cervix, however, changes and becomes soft usually before labor starts. It is important to mention that it may not dilate a lot until early labor; in fact, some women are 40 weeks and cervix still closed.
In any of these situations, it is important for your doctor or midwife to perform a vaginal exam to notice any changes in your cervix and if it is ready for labor or not. It is worth mentioning that even though you may have a soft cervix at 38 weeks, it doesn't automatically qualify to the fact that you're going to labor early. It may only be a sign that your body is getting ready and there may still be a week or even more before labor actually begins.
How the Cervix Changes
Like mentioned already, cervix may not always dilate on time. A 37 weeks cervix soft but closed isn't uncommon. The thing is that every woman's cervix will witness certain changes during pregnancy, and most of the times, these changes are quite normal. Even if your cervix is thick, it may still be slightly dilated from 1-3cm, and it may actually soften when labor starts. In fact, you may say your cervix is closed at 37 weeks, but it's nothing to worry about because it sometimes changes rapidly within hours before your labor starts. A closed but soft cervix is quite normal, especially if it is your first pregnancy.
What Happens After?
During late pregnancy, you will notice contractions that will be irregular in duration, frequency, and intensity – some will be longer and mild, while others may be shorter and intense. You will still experience contractions before your labor, but when there is only 3-5 minutes break between consecutive contractions, with each lasting between 40-60 seconds, the chances are your labor has started. Your cervix in this situation will be 3-4cm dilated. These contractions actually support your cervix to open up and make way for the baby to come out through your pelvis. The contractions also help move your baby's head deep inside the pelvis before your labor actually starts.
40 Weeks and Cervix Still Closed, Is It Normal?
Your cervix undergoes several changes during pregnancy, especially in late pregnancy. It is common for some women to worry about soft cervix at 38 weeks, but it is equally common to see many of them worrying about the fact that their cervix is still closed at 40 weeks. Under normal circumstances, a cervix will soften a bit and begin to dilate when your pregnancy nears the 9th month. Your cervix starts ripening in anticipation of delivery. It is not always the case though, and sometimes your doctor may have to consider other factors as well.
If you have already gone past your due date and your doctor has confirmed that your cervix hasn't yet dilated, it's time to consider some other things as well. You may experience this situation if it is your first pregnancy – the cervix in this case will remain closed until your labor starts. You should bear in mind though that some women are different and in their case, the cervix may begin to ripen at 42 weeks.
Your doctor will, however, conduct a vaginal exam to confirm if the cervix has started softening a bit or not. If it is not soft and is still closed, you may have to be induced because you cannot continue a pregnancy past a certain time. Your doctor will explain it all to you and share all the risks and benefits associated with labor induction. Talk to your partner and make a decision carefully.