Your Cervix Is Not A Crystal Ball
Cervix connects uterus with vagina. It changes during our menstrual cycle and it undergoes a lot of change in pregnancy. It has ability to soften stretch and thin out in labor and can dilate enough to fit a baby! How cool is that?!
Do you need cervical checks at the end of your third trimester? The answer is – maybe.
Cervical checks are performed by a doctor or midwife. They insert their gloved hand with some lubricant on into your vagina and asses cervix for dilation with their pointer and middle finger, effacement and station. First time moms often want to know if they are dilating as they find it hard to wait for natural onset of labor.
Risks involve possible infection, loosening up mucus plug, irritating cervix and even breaking bag of waters! Most women find cervical checks unpleasant if not painful, so in labor it might inhibit feeling of safety and being in your own zone. You should consider not having many cervical checks if you are GBS positive. Every provider measures a little differently too- so one person’s five cm could be another’s four
Benefits are satisfying your curiosity and assessing your possible readiness for induction – Bishop Score of 8 and greater mostly means quicker and easier induction (vs lower than 6 is unfavorable for induction).
You always have to keep in mind that everyBODY is different. While one cervix might be dilated up to 3cm for a couple of weeks (with subsequent pregnancy), first time moms are usually not dilated until the onset of labor. I have heard some surprised Mamas in labor saying “but I just had my check done this morning and I was 0cm dilated!”
During labor it is most hospital’s policy (birthing centers are a little more flexible) to check dilation in triage to decide if birthing person should be admitted to the Labor and Delivery. It might be a great info for you as well if you want to labor a little longer at home. Since the sensations are very new to first time moms they tend to worry and come in very early in their labor. If they admit you at 3cm there is higher risk of snowball of intervention- pitocin, breaking waters etc.
The second time the doctor will want to check you is when you feel an urge to push- they do it to check for a possible cervical lip and often also to feel if baby’s head is engaged in optimal position.
As with everything – it is your wonderful journey – so it it your and your partner’s decision to have or not to have cervical checks.
Remember B.R.A.I.N? Benefits (bishop score for induction), Risks (infection, breaking waters etc), Alternatives (woman’s behavior, rhombus of Michaelis, the purple line), Intuition, Nothing. Now use it 😉
You’ve got this Mama!
I’m here with you. EVERY.STEP.OF.THE.WAY
Marta Uras, Your Doula