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1st time mother - head engagement

(16 Posts)
gingercurl Tue 24-Jul-07 12:39:51

I had an appointment with the consultant this morning and was told that the baby is 2/5 engaged. Last week when I had my routine appointment with the MW the baby was not engaged at all. What I want to know is if there is a "normal" timeframe for when the baby starts to engage to when it is fully engaged for 1st time mothers. Also, once the baby is fully engaged, is there a "normal" timeframe for when labour starts?

I'm 36+4 with my first baby. Today is my last day at work and I haven't had time or energy to prepare much at all and dh has been travelling all over the place for work lately so he hasn't been around to do anything either. I'm just trying to work out how urgent it is. I've managed to get most things in but everything, including clothes, sheets etc, is still in boxes/packaging, the spare room still hasn't been painted...

MamaG Tue 24-Jul-07 12:40:57

IIRC I was 2/5 engaged for weeks

Somebody with a lot more experience than me will come along soon i'm sure <<shouts lulu & Marsy>>

ruddynorah Tue 24-Jul-07 12:42:21

my midwife told me they don't go much by the amount the baby is engaged. some don't fully engage until labour.

Jackstini Tue 24-Jul-07 12:42:43

Wouldn't worry Gingercurl - there are no hard and fast rules with engagement. I have had friends fully engaged 3 weeks before they gave birth - my dds head wasn't fully engaged even after waters breaking.
Relax tinight and just make sure your bag is packed tomorrow. Is there anyone who could paint the room as a gift for the baby?

TheMuppetMuggle Tue 24-Jul-07 12:43:40

Don't worry hun my DD was 3/5 engaged for 2 weeks and then fully engaged week before she was born at 39 weeks. Plenty of time to sort what you need to

LadyOfTheFlowers Tue 24-Jul-07 12:43:40

Babies engage and disengage themselves a lot in your first pregnancy. They also do it a lot sooner in your first pregnancy.
Subsequent pregnancies wait till the last minute, then engage.
Engagement doesnt indicate labour will soon follow as they can pop back up again at any time!
Sorry dear!
I felt very disheartened when ds1 kept on moving back up.
Plus, at 36+4, it is quite early.
Enjoy being you before you get 'baby brain damage' and turn into...dum, dum, dum......a mummy! Noooooo!
Life will never be the same! lol

LadyOfTheFlowers Tue 24-Jul-07 12:45:19

plus, once they are well and truly engaged, you will know about it and wish they weren't!

TheMuppetMuggle Tue 24-Jul-07 12:47:05

totally agree with you there LOTF - you really feel it when they do.

PrettyCandles Tue 24-Jul-07 12:47:13

Not as far as I know. I don't think it can be taken as an indication that anything is likely to happen sooner rather than later.

Don't worry too much about the preparedness: the priorities are to make sure you've got your birth plan and labour bag ready, and that your dh is confident fitting the carseat into the car. The baby will probably be in your bedroom at first, and if you co-sleep at first you won't need the cot immediately either.

A midwife once told me about a woman who came to a routine antenatal appt feeling a little under the weather, and turned out to be in advanced labour. When she worried that she didn't have her labour bag and that her partner couldn't go home to fetch it, the midwife's response was "Don't worry, dear. All the baby needs is love and a boob." I liked that .

mears Tue 24-Jul-07 12:49:17

As a midwife i can tell you that you cannot make planes based on head engagement - it is not a sign of impending labour.

1st babies usually engage any time from 36 weeks onwards but can remain so till 42 weeks. Sorry.

gingercurl Tue 24-Jul-07 14:05:58

Thank you for all your replies and support. It is a relief! I was starting to get a bit worried there. I've been looking forward to a couple of weeks' freedom from work to get things sorted and enjoy time alone with dh before lo arrives. I am surrounded at work by middle-aged know-it-alls who all had their babies 25 years ago. For the last six weeks, every day I've come to work, I've been told how imminent the birth is, how my bump has changed shape, is higher/lower, been nagged about raspberry leaf tea and at any twinge been told that it can be a sign of "things starting". I guess it all just started to get to me a bit.

Jackstini and pc - I think your priorisation is correct: birth plan, bag and carseat. The rest I'll play by ear and see how far down the list I get.

gingercurl Tue 24-Jul-07 14:57:59

Mears, you may be able to answer this.

If engagement is no indication of when you are about to go into labour, why do they check it and put it in your notes when you go for your routine mw appointments? I can understand that you want to know where the baby's head is, but checking engagement at this stage seems a bit pointless.

Also, if the baby isn't engaged when you go into labour, can something be done about it?

lulumama Tue 24-Jul-07 15:01:55

i don;t think that the amount of engagement is that relevant, more the fact the head can fit into the pelvis that is relevant.....

mears Tue 24-Jul-07 15:10:00

hi gingercurl. There are certain milestones that should be achieved by certain stages in a pregnancy and engagement of the head is one of them. Engagement of the head should take place prior to labour for a woman expecting her first baby but might not happen until labour starts in subsequent pregnancies.

Labour does tend to follow engagement, but it does not indicate a time spam for labour to start IYSWIM?

It is concerning if the baby's head has not engaged by the due date because that could identify a problem such as the placenta being in the way (usually picked up by scan but not always), the baby is too big for the mother's pelvis etc.

So engagement is an important thing to know because it identifies whether the baby is 'lining up' properly for labour.

If a woman is in labour and the head is not engaged it can cause problems if the waters break, because the cord could come past the baby's head (cord prolpase) which is a dangerous situation for the baby.

Usually the woman is takn to theatre to have what is called a controlled ARM (artificial rupture of membranes) where the waters are broken bythe doctor to see if the head will come down and settle into the pelvis and to prevent the cord from prolapsing. If the cord comes down then a C section is done. If the head settles down then labour is allowed to continue.

Sometimes it can be that the baby is in an awkward position that corrects istelf once contractions start.

It can be that non engagement is a sign that labour will not be successful and a C section is needed. HTH.

mears Tue 24-Jul-07 15:12:22

The engagement of the head is also important to know inlabour so that you can tell what progress has been made with contractions.

eg at the start of labour the head may be 4/5 palpable.

A few hours later it may be 2/5 palpable so that is an indication that progress is being made, without doing an internal examination.

gingercurl Wed 25-Jul-07 19:31:17

Ah, that makes sense.
Thank you, Mears (and lulamama)!

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