35-36 Weeks Pregnant: GBS Swab and Birth Prep

I know I say this every week – but I can’t believe I’m here! I can’t believe there is – give or take – 4 weeks until my sons arrival. I am feeling mixed emotions the past 2 weeks – I am getting so excited to meet him and see his little face; I’m a bit ‘nervous’ for the birth and how it will go this time; and I’m feeling sad that this pregnancy is coming to an end.

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Birth Prep @ Physiotherapy

This week I had my follow up pelvic physio appointment. My pain has been a bit better as long as I stick to my regimen (I mean as much as it can be – I am still pregnant and have SPD so) – stretching (I would be happy to share what I’ve been doing that is helping); yoga (I stopped weighted workouts about 1.5 weeks ago – not sure if I will resume before he is born or just in the postpartum period); baths with epsom salts; massage (roughly every 2 weeks); taping of the belly; and balancing activity and rest well. I also will take Tylenol if I’ve had a particular busy day and feel overly sore at night. In addition to my pregnancy pillow, I’ve also added back in my wedge from last pregnancy for my hips – it’s making a big difference.

I’ve had Maggie home the past 2 weeks so staying on top of some of this has been harder – but I’ve been making time at nap or bed time for some of the activities as needed.

Since my pain was not the focal point of this week (still ever present), we talked a lot about birth preparation – labor positions and perineal massage mainly. I’ve started perineal massage 4-5x/week as suggested by my PT as I did have a second degree tear last birth. You can start it around 34 weeks, but I started it at 35. This handout from the American College of Nurse-Midwives has good instructions on how to perform perineal massage – you can do it yourself using your thumbs (I find fingers easier but it depends on the size of your bump and also how you are sitting comfortably) or your partner can assist – the instructions for both are there. I use coconut oil to do the massage, but you can use your preferred option.

Labor positions we talked about just went along with what is ideal for the pelvis and what goes with my preferences. My physiotherapist gave great advise – to focus less on “ideal” positions and more on what is comfortable. This will be different for each of us. Last time I laboured earlier on by walking around, I felt my coping was better. I am not sure what my body will want or need this time, but I plan to listen and follow along. Positions I’ve liked in pregnancy when I’m uncomfortable are hands & knees, and just being in the bath. We shall see – I just really hope that I can stay consistent with the massage and hopefully reduce some risk for tearing.

I’ve also started using my yoga ball a few times a day to get my hips and pelvis moving. Wide-legged positions to relax my pelvic floor as well.

GBS Swab and Getting Ready

At my midwife appointment at 36 weeks, I did my GBS (Group B Strep) swab. I had discussed this many times with my midwives in advance of this time. I had also done the swab for my last pregnancy – it’s pretty easy to do (just another vaginal swab) and it can be pretty important to have done it if you end up being GBS positive. Last pregnancy I also did it and was GBS negative. GBS is a bacteria that many have at some point, and it usually is unproblematic. GBS can cause maternal infections as well as neonatal infections when baby is born and they pass through the birth canal. If you test positive, your provider will likely discuss antibiotics with you to prevent passing the bacteria onto your baby. GBS can cause all sorts of issues for your newborn such as problems with feeding or breathing; fever; or in more serious cases, sepsis or meningitis.

I will be sharing a post on GBS swabs in my Informed Choices series in the coming 1-2 weeks and at that point I’ll discuss the risks & benefits of this test. A hint would be that there is minimal risk to doing a vaginal swab – however, some people may not feel comfortable doing one and this should certainly be a consideration and lead to a discussion with your provider. My best tips are: 1) discuss it with your provider(s); 2) ask questions if needed; 3) I had done all my vaginal swabs myself – it is very easy to do even if you have never done it to yourself (or in my case – other people) before. Your provider can review the steps with you if you wish to pursue this option instead of having someone else complete the swab.

Other than the swab we checked baby’s status – he is head down and his heart rate was 130-140, which has been pretty consistent throughout my pregnancy. My blood pressure was low-normal and my belly is measuring right on target at 36 weeks. We got our paperwork for the birth and for after and – yeah! We will be seen at 38 weeks now unless there are any changes in the meantime. Eek!

How am I feeling?

Overall – good but this week hasn’t been without struggles. As I mentioned, Maggie has been home which has been a lot for me physically. Thankfully she had her cast removed last week and her bone is almost entirely healed. She is still limping but is able to move around as before which is such a relief for this pregnant mama.

However – I’m still 36 weeks pregnant so I’m super tired and keeping up with a toddler is definitely not easy! We’ve been doing lots of art-based activities to stay busy but not too active. On the warmer days we also were doing walks but it’s been so cold the past 2 days I’ve avoided that. I have lots of stuff to fold and put away so Maggie will play in her room while I do that which is great. It’s been hard, but I am certainly appreciating every moment we have just her and I. She turns 2 this weekend (post on her is upcoming) and I just can’t believe it! I am feeling a lot of excitement about her becoming a big sis very soon. But I won’t lie – I’ve been tired and a bit moody this week.

I have also been crampy the past 2 days – period-like cramps with no pattern. They’re very dull except I did have a very clear contraction today but it was isolated. I am quite sure baby dropped in the past week, so it could be his head engaging or it could be some early/prodromal labor. We shall see – I will be keeping an eye on it and paging my midwives if there is a pattern or progress. I definitely want him to stay in another week – after next Wednesday he is welcome to make an appearance as he pleases, but we’d really like him to be term! I’m sure that we will easily make it there, and if he’s anything like his sister.. he may wait even longer! Ha.

If anything exciting goes down next week, I’ll post an update – otherwise my next post updating will be at 38 weeks! As always, thanks for reading!

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