Early Engagement: Does This Mean an Early Birth?

I am 32 weeks pregnant and yesterday my baby "dropped" in my pelvis. I have read that the babies normally become engaged two to four weeks before delivery. Since I am eight weeks from my due date does this mean that my baby will be born early?

Question:
ABOUT THE EXPERT

Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

If the baby's head has indeed engaged, it could mean that early labor might ensue or it may have no significance at all. I would really counsel you to watch for any signs or symptoms of preterm labor, do daily fetal movement counts and watch for any leaking of fluid. You should be checked -- perhaps as often as once to twice a week.

The word "dropped" has come to mean several things. I use the term "dipping" to imply that the baby's head is no longer floating above the inlet or the pelvic brim. At 32 weeks, this could very well be the case. If the doctor agreed that your baby has engaged, this would mean that the baby's head is now fixed at the mid plane of the pelvis.

If I discovered that a baby was more deeply engaged into the pelvis than I would expect, I would take a careful history of any contractions, leaking of fluid, pain, cramping, fever, strenuous work or activity, bleeding, etc. I would observe for any contractions, either with my hand or, with the external fetal monitor. I would perform a cervical exam to see if any effacement or dilatation had occurred and I would reassess engagement from within. Sometimes babies fool us and seem engaged on the outside but are not when the actual measurement is made on internal exam.

If any early effacement or dilatation had occurred, of course, this necessitates cultures, perhaps medication, hospitalization and/or bedrest. Steroids to mature the baby's lungs would be given.

I don't mean to alarm you, as this may mean nothing at all. But to just ignore it is not the best practice -- especially if you are at all concerned. Discuss your concerns with your provider again and ask him or her to give you a better explanation of the consequences and the plan. Seek out a second opinion or another care provider if you find the answers are not satisfactory.

I wish you the best and hope you have a peaceful delivery nearer to your due date.

Answer:
Need Advice?
Get answers from iVillage experts and other moms just like you!
ASK YOUR QUESTION
Question Details
Subject
  1. Pick a subject:
Connect with 1,039,394 members just like you
Share your knowledge, ask questions.