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Cervical swelling- how and why does it happen?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I’ve gone through so many different “phases” or mindsets since ds’s birth, and just when I finally got comfortable and secure I’m all confused again. I was trying to read up on homeopathic arnica when I stumbled across something on cervical swelling. Somehow I forgot that cervical swelling was the main reason we opted for a c/s with ds, on our medwife’s advice, after about 30 hrs of labor. He had a caput, originally was LOA but turned direct OP, and my cervix had swelled back down to about 4 or 5. What I read (in the Ronnie Falcao Midwife Articles) was that swelling isn’t very common and it can be a signal of distocia… well ds was 12lbs with a 15 ¼” head and 16” shoulders. At first I thought, well, he was big and probably wouldn’t have come out. Then with time I started feeling like he could have. Recently I’ve been feeling that of course he would have come out just fine if we wouldn’t have had to be in the hospital getting meddled with (I “had” to be induced at 42 weeks because of the medwife’s insurance policy). But now I’m not so sure. Is it reasonable to think that being in a place where I was uncomfortable and unhappy (hospital) would be enough to cause such swelling? I didn’t have any IV’s or monitors or anything like that (I was induced with the prostaglandin “tampon” thing, which was removed after labor started) but just *being* there was enough of a hinderance. Or is it possible that I actually truly grew a baby that was a little “too big”? Just to clarify, I had an awesome diet during my pregnancy, no sugar, very little dairy, although because I was a vegetarian the mw’s were relentless on my protein intake and I was eating insane amounts of soy products to keep them happy. No diabetes, no health issues, but I did go to 42 weeks without having more than a handful of mild Braxton hicks. When I went past 40w we tried every “natural” induction idea in the book, but nary a contraction. I don’t see how I could have possibly avoided a 12 lb. baby, but I’m also confused now if I could have truthfully avoided a c/s. So I guess I’m looking for outside input on whether it may have been a true case of distocia or if things would have likely been much easier for me if I would have been able to be at home.
Oh and another thing, very important the PRESSURE! I could handle the contractions but I was completely unprepared for the intense pressure. It never went away even between contractions, just kept getting worse and worse, it really just *felt* like something was wrong. It was excruciating to sit or even think about using the toilet, and I ended up standing in the shower to pee as much as possible just to avoid sitting. I imagine this pressure came from the swelling, but why? I haven’t read any birth stories where the overwhelming sensation was splitting pressure, and it's the one thing I'm fearing with my next labor. I really would like to get my confidence in birthing big babies back, especially since ds2 could be as big or bigger than ds1 seeing as there’s nothing I can really change (except lower protein) to keep from growing such a large baby again. I’m obviously very confused and would really appreciate some input.
post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 
Is my post too long or is it just that nobody wants to take a stab at my ramblings
post #3 of 19
I don't have any info for you but I wanted to tell you that the post isin't too long or rambly and I hope you get an answer soon
post #4 of 19
Amy - I wish I had something wise to tell you but IMO either situation could be possible. It is possible that you grew a baby that was a little to big for you and it is also possible that where you were and what was going on was enough to psychologically hinder the situation. I don't think there is anyway to know for sure which one caused the c-section or if it was a little of both. IMO it is very reasonable that you could have had everything go exactly the way you wanted, no induction, been totally relaxed and happy with the enviornment and still needed the c-section strictly based on the size. You may just be one of those rare women who grew a baby too big to birth vaginally. That doesn't mean the same thing will happen next time. I totally applaud you for searching for an answer. FOr me, the more I examined my first birth the better I was able to go into my 2nd.

What positions did you push in? I think position for pushing is crucial for bigger babies. My last wasn't near as big but he was 9 and half lbs and had a 15inch head. NOt sure about his shoulder measurement. I don't think I could have pushed him out if I hadn't been on my knees bending over.

post #5 of 19
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies... yeah I do want them This is how I'm trying to make myself more comfortable with the next labor- I'm trying to answer the questions I have about the first.
I never got a chance to push with ds, I was stuck at I think 6cm for about 15 hours before my cervix started to swell back down. That is why I'm wondering about the swelling thing. Like if it might have been a signal that he was not coming, or if it was maybe because of my environment. I understand that nobody can "answer" that, but I'm just trying to gather info on cervical swelling and what it means. I've made a point to read "big baby" natural birth stories, but I never read about cervical swelling during those births. Even without doing any internals, I find it hard to imagine that it could be missed, especially because of the intense "swelling" feeling/pressure and the extra time it takes for the swelling to go down... if it does go down on its own. I'm not talking about a lip either, but the full swelling of the entire cervix. I was thinking about something lately, I had a small cervical biopsy when I was 17, but I have no idea if that can/did cause any scar tissue? Maybe that could have contributed?
post #7 of 19
Another thing to remember is, every birth is different, even in the same mother from baby to baby. We fret because all we have to compare a new baby's birth with is our past experiences, yet how often do you hear about a mom having the same exact issues?

About the swelling, I don't really know, but I have read about putting ice on a swelling cervix to help shrink it down a bit. Even sizes from babies vary -- yes, they are supposed to get bigger, but they don't always. I think I would pay attention to eating foods very low on the glycemic index to try and funnel out extra carbohydrates. I would also avoid full-fat dairy products. There are diet adjustments that can be made which would at least help you feel like you are doing something to help things along.

Mama, try not to focus your energy on a repeat scenario -- every baby is different, even your body is different because you have grown and changed since your last baby's birth. The next baby may not need to be born the way your last baby was. On the other hand, honor your last baby's birth, and tuck it away. You will never forget it, but your next experience may act as a balm to cover the raw parts that still plague you.

Many hugs to you! And get rid of your stinkin' thinkin' and focus on the positives instead .
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well I'm sooooo not expecting things to go the same way, but in order to "tuck away" my last birth I need to resolve the issues I have with it. I need to finalize my thoughts on it, which means focusing a part of my energy on it until I'm at peace with it. I don't want it hanging over my head, and until I understand what happened and why, I don't think I can put it away. Actually, I'll probably never be able to fully put it away, it's just one of those things. It's so easy to think of a positive birth experience staying with you for your whole life, yet a negative one shouldn't have that same power, right?
There really is nothing I could do differently diet-wise, except not eat the amount of protien recommended for pregnancy. I mean, even when I went into the hospital and an u/s confirmed an 11+ lb baby I smiled at the technician and told him how I wouldn't have grown a baby too big for me because I worked really hard to have a wonderful, healthy diet.
I just wish I could find some more info on cervical swelling, maybe I'll try asking in the midwives forum or something. Or maybe I'll just go back to feeling ok after I let myself process for a while.
I changed the thread title to focus my question a little better
post #9 of 19
I don't know the whys about cervical swelling but I can relate my experience with it.

for DD#1 labor started like gangbusters. Soon I was having 3 minutes apart, 1 minute long and we went to the hospital (yeah, I know). So things progressed 1 cm/hour until they insisted I get an IV finally. At that point I was 8 cm and almost immediately things started getting excruciating. Like constant sharp internal pain. I was totally debilitated, nauseous, lying down, now on an IV, having been up all night and now drifting in and out of consciousness. I seriously thought I might die from the pain...part of me was hoping to, even, just to get it over with.

I really wanted a natural birth, I walked around as much as I could, (like, for 5 minutes once) tried to eat (threw it up). After 8 hours of this hellish agony, I agreed to their recommendation of epidural/pitocin (doc had said it would help the pain, relax me and help the swelling, and get contractions back on track since the intense pain and hormones had made them irregular and weak). DD was healthy, born vaginally at [3.075 kg] 6 lbs 12 oz, kind of small so I know it wasn't distocia. I was damn lucky to avoid a section.

Fast forward to birth #2. Had done a lot of reading and soul searching. I read: Unassisted Childbirth, The Power of Pleasurable Childbirth, and lots others and basically came to believe that the SETTING was responsible for my birthing problems with dc#1 (the setting, but possibly also in conjunction with too much prenatal care/ultrasounds and the accompanying worry) .

With #2 I birthed at home, labored and birthed in the tub, with my mom and husband here. It was a simple 4 hour labor, start to finish, very calm and quiet and except for a major whiny and tearful breakdown moment of "this is a mistake, I can't do this, it hurts too much, I need something for the pain, my body's screwing up again" (my mom said, "Hmmm it might be too late for that. I'll bet you're in transition. Here, have 6 drops of rescue remedy." and just a contraction or two later I was pushy and feeling all wonderful again. The pushing stage was about 45 minutes. Easy gentle pushing but doing the job. Still in the water leaning back. And before we knew it, he was crowning, and then was that WHOA ring of fire, then I flipped over to hands and knees and because of gravity I guess I pushed a little too hard, and his head was born! (minor tear) DS was wiggling and turning, and making sweet little wheezy/grunty noises, and on the next contraction his body was born.

So my guess is that you should not worry about having the same problems this time around even if baby #2 is big. You're a different person. Probably even more educated and confident in your body's abilities. And you're making different decisions.

Oh I just reread your writings...I ALSO had a cervical biopsy in 3 places when I was...let's see...22 or so? (I was 34 giving birth the first time). WOW could that be part of the picture?
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your story, Liora. That's just what I needed.
I'm going to ask my mom about the biopsy thing, she works with a bunch of doctors and they always have opinions on everything My biopsy was 2 yrs. before ds's birth, but it would be interesting to know if it can cause scarring.
I know that this labor and birth will be a world away from last time, and I'm really happy about that! I usually feel really good and happy about it, except for "moments" like these. But I'm glad for the questioning because it's my way of processing and letting go. It just takes a little time I guess.
post #11 of 19
That's really interesting. I also had a cervical biopsy in two places when I was about 20, and had a cervical lip and some swelling during dd's labor. I'll have to look into that. . . .
post #12 of 19
sorry, i tried. i hope you find what you're looking for.
post #13 of 19
babies that are direct OP will often have labors where there is cervical swelling or a regression in dilation.

i've seen women with OP babies that are 9cm between contx but when the contx happens, they close down to 4-5cm. sometimes women with OP babies get urges to bear down (not really pushing, but constant bearing down) because of the positioning.
post #14 of 19
OMG mine was anything BUT an urge to push! While I was swollen (before the epi/pit, that is) it was just the opposite of pushing. Like contracting and trying not to die from the intense pain.

Back to the biopsy theory: I had biopsy in 3 places about 14 years prior to my first birth. It's really a provocative thought that maybe scar tissue was a major reason for difficulties.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
that's very interesting. I know there was a little disagreement between the people who checked my dilation : I wish someone would have noticed he was OP *before* we went ahead with the c/s. I could at least have tried to help him turn.
I also had no urge to push, but I think I was really tensing up, it was almost impossible for me to relax because when I did the pressure was unbearable, almost like his head was going to rip me right open if I let it rest fully on my cervix. So that may have contributed. Boy it sure would have been nice to soak in the aquadoula that was filled and sitting at my house. ha. Well I'll get my water birth this time
I've read stories about manually (ouch) breaking up scar tissue in labor when it causes problems, but how would you know? How much scar tissue has to be there to cause a problem, and if there's enough wouldn't someone feel it and say 'hey you've got scar tissue' or something? I hope that if I have scar tissue it was broken up during my last labor and I won't have to deal with it again!
post #16 of 19
Hi! I don't really have any answers for your just a question and a recommendation: do you think the prostaglandin tampon thing had anything to do with your cervical swelling? A possible side effect? Also, you mentioned that you ate a lot of soy, I read this book: The Whole Soy Story By Kaayla Daniel, PhD, CCN. It is a very interesting and eye opening book. Maybe it would help. Good luck with your quest.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
possibly, but the only thing is the swelling occured a good 20+ hours after the thing was taken out, and it was only in for a few hours in the first place (I actually think I would have gone into labor that day regardless, and it only kicked it off a little). It seems more likely that something going on around the time I started to swell was causing the swelling, but I really don't know for sure. I guess I should research the thing, too bad I forgot its name... maybe Prostagel? hmm.
This time I'm hardly eating any soy, probably once every couple weeks. That book sounds good, as I don't really have the whole story down, I just started hearing all these awful things about soy after ds was born... too late. I think my high-soy diet had something to do with how huge ds was, but on the other hand, he has always been over the 100th percentile in height and weight, he's been wearing 5T's for about 6 months and he only just turned 3. Either he's destined to be huge or I really messed with his hormones with all that soy! I'll check out that book, maybe it says something about that?
Liora-I've been talking to people and I've gathered that cervical scarring can and does cause swelling during labor, but once the scar tissue is broken up it doesn't cause that much of a problem anymore.
post #18 of 19
This link has lots of inretesting things related to this topic:
Please freelly to be seing

best regards
post #19 of 19
I think that we could postulate until the cows come home about why/how it happens, but the reality is that the reason is different for different moms. Malpresentation is a POWERFUL factor in cervical swelling, though.

I think it is safe to say 100% that you will definately had a different labor if you are not induced, though.
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