I definitely think it's easier to check if you've done it pre-pregnancy. I was used to it when checking for fertility or using a menstrual cup, etc. It definitely feels different now, though! Apparently throughout pregnancy the cervix is very soft. The os (opening) will feel sort of like puckered lips with that little indent in the center. For a primip, it won't be open at all to start with. For a multip, it'll be open a bit all the time. For me, I've been able to "observe" it opening over the last couple of months (has it been that long? gee, I have no idea!).
I decline checks from my MW prelabor and will have minimal checks (if at all) in labor. But, I find it encouraging (most of the time
) and much more comfortable (i.e., not uncomfortable at all) to check myself. I'm especially curious this time around as in my last labor I went from my "normal" labor pattern, more or less, to a super-speedy labor that surprised us all. I'm not sure if I should expect something long and slow again, or something short and fast, or maybe in the middle? So while it's no guarantee at all of anything, knowing I'm nearly as far dilated NOW as I have been a day or two into labor with my last two gives us at least a hint that this will go faster.
Though no one could've predicted when my water broke last time and I was at 6cm that I'd be holding him 17 minutes later.
There really is never anyway to know what will happen... But it's interesting to make observations, anyway.