Monday, November 14, 2005

33 week checkup: 75th percentile babies and Group B strep

Today I met with my obstetrician for a regular checkup. It was strange not to be seeing my gp, but certainly the free underground parking will be a blessing in the winter. Although I arrived ten minutes before my appointment, they still took me about forty minutes late. This is way worse than at my GP's office.
Although the tests at this point are quite standard, things work a little differently at my OB's office. For starters, while presented with an identical (didn't want to use "spitting image" here) urine sample container, there isn't a strict set of guidelines for sample collection. The procedure at my GP's involved antiseptic towelettes and a page of bold instructions taped to the bathroom wall (including a prohibition from collecting the beginning of the stream). At my OB's they just handed me the container. Ultimately, the end result is the same as usual - although at my GP's they usually tell me my test was fine, and at the OB's nothing was said.
For my weight measurement, I always lived in the land of semi-blissful ignorance at my GP's office, where all the measurements were announced in metric units. Of course I *know* the multiplier, but I can will myself not to perform the mental calculation. At the OB's office, I got to hear the nurse say "199", which I am going to assume is in imperial units (damn well better be).
My blood pressure was not taken by the nurse, but was taken by my OB: 116/60 - which is pretty ideal.
Although Rebecca was "on the move" basically all day today, my OB has the kind of doppler device that allows everyone to hear the sounds at once. No tricky earphones. Her heartbeat is fine.
My fundal measurement (recall - basically the length of the uterus which is supposed to have a one to one correlation with number of weeks gestation), was a whopping 36. Obviously, it would normally be 33 - but as was learned during the U/S exam, Rebecca is not petite.
My OB wanted to know whether anything major had occurred since the last time I saw him. The answer was in fact - no. All tests results had come back fine and my edema (though still in evidence) was much improved by the change in the weather. He was very positive about Rebecca's size. He explained that 75th percentile is nice and healthy and babies do very well when they are slightly above the mean but still in the normal range. He said that 75th percentile babies are usually about 8lbs. (thank God, under 10). I asked him if it was true in his experience that first time mothers are more likely to deliver "late". He said it was certainly true compared to subsequent births. He also stated that bigger babies tend to come late. This was a bit anti-intuitive to me, but I'm not the OB.
My OB gave me a hospital confidential pre-admission questionnaire (fairly straight forward), and told me that after the next appointment or the second-to-next appointment, we would be switching to the once-a-week visit schedule. It's kind of exciting to think that I am finally in the home stretch.
Unexpectedly, I have yet another test coming up. Unfortunately, this is not a blood test but consists of at least one swab test for Group B Streptococcus (not to be confused with Streptococcus A which is responsible for Strep throat). The story goes like this... just as a consequence of being a living person which a particular body chemistry, some adults will play host to colonies of Streptococcus B. About 1 in 4 women will have this bacteria. They don't even know it, because it doesn't make them sick. At any rate, Strep B can be transmitted to the baby during birth, producing nasty infections and sometimes even death (although that is not common). It doesn't matter if your baby is delivered vaginally or by Cesaerean section because there have been cases of babies becoming infected by the amniotic sac (once it has ruptured of course). Pregos have to be tested between 35 and 37 weeks gestation by means of rectal and vaginal swabs (lovely). If the test is positive for Strep B, the mother must be treated by antibiotics - but only during labour. This doesn't mean the mother will thereafter have no strep B - adults with strep B are generally considered "colonized" and the strep B returns.
Anyhow, as pleased as I am with the prospect of being swabbed, Group B Strep is considered the leading cause of serious newborn infections - so this knowledge is a good thing. Of course, if you go into labour before being tested, they will treat you with antibiotics, but only if you are identified as having specific risk factors.

No comments: