Cervical Exams: To or Not To Do

Cervical exams are an inevitable task to face for any expectant parent. However, this is possibly one of the most overlooked options and choice you have to consider during labor. It's important to consider the pros & cons of this but in the end, it's a personal choice for you to make, dear one!




PROS:

  • May be encouraging to see how far you've come

  • Could trigger contractions

  • Helpful to understand baby's position and station

  • Can be helpful for your care team to know how to support your labor progress

  • Helpful with decisions on next steps and possible interventions


CONS:

  • May become discouraging if you're not where you feel you should be

  • Greater risk of infection, especially if water has already broken

  • More vaginal exams may lead to a quicker diagnosis of "failure to progress"

  • Can be very uncomfortable

  • Could accidentally break your bag of waters


Quite possibly one of the most important factors to consider is your feelings surrounding vaginal exams. This could be negative feelings stemming from the lack of modesty or something darker as a product of past trauma. Having a quiet moment to yourself towards the end of your pregnancy to reflect on this is important! If this type of exam raises feelings of fear, anxiety, lack of safety, or sadness; then it could significantly impact not only your birth experience but your progress overall during labor.


And if I could say one thing to you, darling, it would be that just because you are pregnant, or in labor, or in a hospital, or a birth center....your care provider should always ask your consent PRIOR to doing an exam! This does not mean casually stating it as they move your legs apart. It means truly asking you if you're alright with the examination. Be vocal if it is something you do not want to happen!


ASK YOUR PROVIDER:

  • How would you feel if I didn't want my cervix checked unless I needed to make a decision?

  • How often do you prefer to check my cervix during labor?

  • Would you advocate for me limiting cervical checks with the nursing staff?

  • I have concerns relating to ______ past trauma, how can I expect you to approach this?

Please feel free to reach out if you have questions or are uncomfortable talking with your provider about this topic. I'm always here for you, sweet friend!





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