Do you check yourself for dilation and if so, how do you tell how far dilated you are?
For Those Who Have BTDT.......
This is pretty much what I was thinking too but wanted to give you a method anyways.
It's really quite easy. There are amazing diagrams around too! I couldn't tell anything with my first but with my second, it truly fascinated me. That might sound crazy but I thought it was so amazing to be that in tune with my body. I was 7 cm dilated a week before labor even started and it was a bit important to know that. Even though I did end up have a 10 hr labor (he was an unknown breech), I feel like if he was head down, he would have come much quicker! My water didn't break until I was pushing at 10 cm dilated and that was good to know then too. It is way better, in my opinion, to check yourself rather than having someone else check. You just know your body and you know yourself and what's comfortable to you so you don't have to bother with intrusion. The diagrams help a bunch in just having an estimated idea. http://www.givingbirthnaturally.com/cervix-dilation.html Just use that to gauge your finger spacing. It's nice to have the knowledge!
I checked often throughout my labor with my third. I really enjoyed feeling the progress and also I'd occasionally feel during a contraction, and wow, would my cervix open so much more during one! Honestly, though, with all my checking, (despite all the diagrams I have looked at) I couldn't tell how many CMs I was and just went by how far the head was, how I was feeling, etc.
Here's a page I bookmarked a long time ago, for those who like to at least try to check.
I did check last time but would try to resist the curiosity next time, because of increasing the chances of pushing bacteria up there and because I think the cervix probably works better if you just leave it alone. I also read a good article somewhere recently that said to keep in mind that 10 is not a magic number - just because you're at 10 doesn't mean you're ready to start pushing if you don't feel like it, and likewise, some women don't even have to dilate that far. But if you want to, you can measure the width of your hand, 1 finger, 2 fingers, 3 fingers, knuckles, to give you an idea.
I've recently heard of another way to tell without a vaginal check, based on the number of fingers below your ribs your fundus is. http://sarahvine.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/how-dilated-am-i-assessing-dilation-without-an-internal-exam/
3 UC's and I never once checked my cervix. I never felt the need to know. I mean, I was in labor, so I assumed I was dilating, and if I wasn't then it wasn't time to be dilating. My "pushing" phase was actually a fetal ejection reflex, and I assumed my body was smart enough to know when it was time for that to kick in. If I wasn't fully dilated at that point, there wasn't anything I could do about it anyways. Same thing if it was a butt or feet presenting; at that point, all there is to do is get the baby out (but keeping hands off the breech!).
I never check my dilation for any reason. There's really no point. I have seen women go from 1cm 50% effaced to pushing the baby out in 30 minutes. NO. JOKE. I have also seen women sit at 9 cm for five hours. Dilation doesn't mean a thing. If you were to get impatient and check only to find that you weren't dilated as far along as you were, it could make you feel desperate or disappointed. I'd rather not have to worry about getting any germs up inside that don't really need to be in there or possibly rupturing the bag of waters. To me, it just seems like another way to get frustrated or worried.