can/should I learn to check my own cervix for dilation? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 10-25-2012, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been studying up on preterm labor, and it all just seems so vague and subjective to me.  My only risk for preterm labor is that I'm pregnant with twins, but I've had a couple of instances of frequent BH earlier on, and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to play it safe without running to the hospital every few days.  I'm not having many BH right now, but I'm still just 22.5 weeks.  

 

So here's my question:  Can I or should I check my own cervix to see if I'm dilating when I experience frequent BH?  I've heard that frequent cervical exams are bad - does this risk outweigh the benefit of peace of mind?  If there would be a benefit to checking my cervix how do I go about it?  I actually have relatively short fingers, and my cervix is usually too high for me to feel more than the edge of it.  If it were dilating would it drop lower?  


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#2 of 19 Old 10-25-2012, 08:22 PM
 
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I don't know what the consensus is on here, but quite frankly, I MUCH prefer to check myself for dilation than someone else.  I know my body better (especially after "knowing" my cervix while tracking cycles for the last 9 years) so I can gauge changes better, my body already knows my own bacteria, I can FEEL (inside, as well as by touch) what I am doing, instead of someone else just feeling with their fingers, etc. 

 

I don't think that just because you know what you're doing that you will be doing it too frequently, but at least if you feel the need you will be familiar with what you are looking for.  (and really, "frequently" isn't something I'd really be concerned about as long as there's no manipulation or real disturbances to the cervix or anything.  I mean, if you're having sex, your cervix is probably being touched, so....yeah...)  I don't know if it would necessarily drop lower if you are dilating.  It'll move forward before/with labor, but that's usually related to other factors as well, not just dilation alone.  And also, one thing that caught me off guard about 20 weeks into my second pregnancy was funneling, which is really common with 2nd+ time moms, but scared me until I learned it!  But because I became familiar with what amount of funneling was normal for me, if I had concerns later I was able to tell if that had changed at all.

 

So I think it's wise to know how to check yourself.  But I know most won't agree. 

 

This is a helpful link I found a couple years ago.  I was already really familiar with checking myself but still found some parts helpful!

http://www.joyousbirth.info/articles/cervixlearning.html

 

(all that said, while I've never been pregnant with twins, I have a TON of BH with my pregnancies, starting in the first tri, but they've never changed my cervix, even when I'm having a ton a day)


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#3 of 19 Old 10-25-2012, 08:53 PM
 
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Absolutely you should!

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#4 of 19 Old 10-26-2012, 05:32 AM
 
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I think you should. I learned to check myself during my first pregnancy and have checked myself in all my subsequent pregnancies. In fact at around 21ish weeks I was having intense BHs so I checked myself and felt the baby's head right there (a bit early for that). I called my midwife just in case.. Everything turned out fine, but it was nice to be able to find that out myself and alert my midwife. I don't think self-checks are like having frequent checks from a midwife/OB. If you are having regular sex, that's far more invasive than you checking your own cervix.

 

I haven't found my cervix drops lower unless baby is engaged. But in early labor it does turn anterior from posterior which makes it easier to feel. I'm not too good at knowing how many cm I am later in labor (and oops, my m/w didn't make it to a birth because of that, lol!) but in the beginning stages I can definitely tell when things are changing.


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#5 of 19 Old 10-26-2012, 06:38 AM
 
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I also think you should.  You know your body best, and it's much better for you to do it than someone else.  And if it's ok for you to have sex (much rougher that checking yourself) than it's ok for you to check your cervix.  The biggest issue with frequent checks is the possibility of introducing bacteria, but that's not an issue with yourself (although I do recommend washing your hands first).  If it's difficult for you to find your cervix, try checking in the shower by squatting down real low, or on the toilet.  

 

I wish I had been checking my cervix throughout my pregnancy.  Now I'm having PTL scars and on bed rest, it would have been really helpful to have had a better idea of what my cervix felt like before it changed from these contractions.  

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#6 of 19 Old 10-26-2012, 08:22 AM
 
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Just wanted to add my support for self-checks. The important thing is you need to know what your cervix feels like so that you'll know if there are any changes. So sounds like now's a good time to figure out how to reach it (squatting, etc) and get familiar with how it feels - open/closed, thick/thinning, anterior/posterior, etc. I would definitely make sure hands are washed before doing it and if you have any suspicion that your water may have broken, please do not check as that is when there is a real risk of introducing bacteria.

I had a pretty significant 1st trimester bleed a few weeks back. I had to insert progesterone tablets 3 times a day (vaginally) at that time. I took those chances to check my cervix through all that, and what a help it was to ease my mind! At the height of the bleed, it did descend and open a bit. but once it settled, it travelled back up higher and closed. I have been spotting since, but as long as that cervix stays high, I feel at ease. Glad to hear there are websites out there to help explain what to expect in assessing your cervix...this is something so simple we can do to ease our minds and save so many visits to dr's.


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#7 of 19 Old 10-27-2012, 04:30 PM
 
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Another vote for yes! If it puts your mind at ease then why not? I mentioned to my OB that my cervix had gone through some interesting texture changes over the last couple of weeks, but returned to normal and she told me "Well don't check it too much." Umm... I think my hand (especially freshly cleaned) is much safer and cleaner than the male anatomy and I don't hear you telling me not to have sex, so how does that logic follow??

 

As for method to check. I have the best luck sitting on the toilet. I also have a VERY high cervix, but found this time it is so much easier to check if I'm in a sitting position vs trying to check myself on my back, squatting, or standing which is how I've tried in the past. Once you get the hang of how it should feel it takes all of two seconds to check. What they say about it feeling like the tip of your nose I found to be absolutely true. Good luck and I hope those babies stay in till the end! :)


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#8 of 19 Old 11-04-2012, 11:06 AM
 
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I prefer a hands off philosophy until labor. Even then, I only like to be checked once or twice. Besides being pointless, you could introduce infection or even trigger contractions. I had one check when I arrived the at the birth center (7 cm) and one check after my water broke (10 cm).


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#9 of 19 Old 11-04-2012, 11:18 AM
 
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Just to share:

 

I "learned" last time I was pregnant and I was so sure of myself and totally thought I knew what I was doing. I was checking quite a bit because I had 2.5 weeks of prodromal labor. I was talking to my OB about it and told her I was dilated to almost 2, and that I was wondering if she thought I would go anytime soon. She asked if I minded if she checked me, and since I was SO sure of myself, and had checked myself right before going into her office I wanted to show her that I was "right". My main reason for checking myself was that I live 30 minutes from the hospital, and I always worry about getting there on time (and sure enough, DS was born 22 minutes after our arrival- just 12 minutes after I got into L&D) 

 

I was dilated to almost 5. ROTFLMAO.gifMy OB was surprised, but said that many women can walk around like that for days, even weeks. 

 

I still didnt birth for about 5 days, but I was totally wrong about how dilated I was. 

 

 

I'm going to try again to figure out if Im dilating myself, but Im not going to refuse the cervical checks because I was wrong last time and I dont want to rely on myself to know that Im doing it right. 


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#10 of 19 Old 11-04-2012, 11:32 AM
 
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Just to share:

 

I "learned" last time I was pregnant and I was so sure of myself and totally thought I knew what I was doing. I was checking quite a bit because I had 2.5 weeks of prodromal labor. I was talking to my OB about it and told her I was dilated to almost 2, and that I was wondering if she thought I would go anytime soon. She asked if I minded if she checked me, and since I was SO sure of myself, and had checked myself right before going into her office I wanted to show her that I was "right". My main reason for checking myself was that I live 30 minutes from the hospital, and I always worry about getting there on time (and sure enough, DS was born 22 minutes after our arrival- just 12 minutes after I got into L&D) 

 

I was dilated to almost 5. ROTFLMAO.gifMy OB was surprised, but said that many women can walk around like that for days, even weeks. 

 

I still didnt birth for about 5 days, but I was totally wrong about how dilated I was. 

 

 

I'm going to try again to figure out if Im dilating myself, but Im not going to refuse the cervical checks because I was wrong last time and I dont want to rely on myself to know that Im doing it right. 

 

I've been a 5 well before my last 2 labors too!!!  People always say, "Oh you're totally in labor at 4cm"...but not me. LOL

 

The thing is though, I remember with my one hospital birth, I'd be checked by the nurse and then the OB right after, and they were both different...no consistency, each one giving a different number (nurse #1 said 6cm, OB said 4cm).  My "doula" (actually DH's aunt who was a L&D nurse/MW) had told me 5 when we went in.  I believed her because she'd been the one checking me all along.

 

At least doing it myself and gauging the changes will be more consistent than a bunch of different sized fingers up there. LOL


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#11 of 19 Old 11-04-2012, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I asked my FPD at my appointment last week about checking myself if I thought I might be in preterm labor, and she doesn't want me to.  She didn't say anything about introducing infection or causing contractions, but that it interferes with the test for fetal fibronectin.  If I think there's a chance I'm in PTL, they'll want to swab for the fetal fibronectin test before anyone checks my cervix.  Your cervix is supposed to be "undisturbed" for 24 hours for an accurate test.  So no DIY for preterm labor checks shrug.gif.  


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#12 of 19 Old 11-04-2012, 03:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adaline'sMama View Post

Just to share:

 

I "learned" last time I was pregnant and I was so sure of myself and totally thought I knew what I was doing. I was checking quite a bit because I had 2.5 weeks of prodromal labor. I was talking to my OB about it and told her I was dilated to almost 2, and that I was wondering if she thought I would go anytime soon. She asked if I minded if she checked me, and since I was SO sure of myself, and had checked myself right before going into her office I wanted to show her that I was "right". My main reason for checking myself was that I live 30 minutes from the hospital, and I always worry about getting there on time (and sure enough, DS was born 22 minutes after our arrival- just 12 minutes after I got into L&D) 

 

I was dilated to almost 5. ROTFLMAO.gifMy OB was surprised, but said that many women can walk around like that for days, even weeks. 

 

I still didnt birth for about 5 days, but I was totally wrong about how dilated I was. 

 

 

I'm going to try again to figure out if Im dilating myself, but Im not going to refuse the cervical checks because I was wrong last time and I dont want to rely on myself to know that Im doing it right. 

Lol!! That's how I am with dilation. I can tell if I'm effacing (which for me means I'm in labor) but actual dilation, I'm lost. With my third, I was checking myself in labor and giving reports to my midwife. She lives a couple hours away so it was nice to be able to know 'for sure' when to tell her to come. About two hours before birth I told her I was effacing nicely but thought I was maybe a few cms, looking back I was probably 6-8, haha! Fifteen minutes later I realized that I must not be checking right and that she needed to come NOW. She didn't make it. blush.gif

 

BB, I don't know much about the FFT, but that's a bummer! I don't know how one can guarantee that your cervix is 'undisturbed' though. What if you've had sex less than 24 hours earlier? 


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#13 of 19 Old 11-04-2012, 03:39 PM
 
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I asked my FPD at my appointment last week about checking myself if I thought I might be in preterm labor, and she doesn't want me to.  She didn't say anything about introducing infection or causing contractions, but that it interferes with the test for fetal fibronectin.  If I think there's a chance I'm in PTL, they'll want to swab for the fetal fibronectin test before anyone checks my cervix.  Your cervix is supposed to be "undisturbed" for 24 hours for an accurate test.  So no DIY for preterm labor checks shrug.gif.  

This is good to know. So, what about sex? 

 

 

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Lol!! That's how I am with dilation. I can tell if I'm effacing (which for me means I'm in labor) but actual dilation, I'm lost. With my third, I was checking myself in labor and giving reports to my midwife. She lives a couple hours away so it was nice to be able to know 'for sure' when to tell her to come. About two hours before birth I told her I was effacing nicely but thought I was maybe a few cms, looking back I was probably 6-8, haha! Fifteen minutes later I realized that I must not be checking right and that she needed to come NOW. She didn't make it. blush.gif

 

BB, I don't know much about the FFT, but that's a bummer! I don't know how one can guarantee that your cervix is 'undisturbed' though. What if you've had sex less than 24 hours earlier? 

Lol- I was 80% effaced at 7.5 months last time, so I cant even go by that!


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#14 of 19 Old 11-08-2012, 01:29 PM
 
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This is good to know. So, what about sex? 

 

If you're having issues with, or the possibility of preterm labor NO SEX allowed (not even non-penatrative orgasms)!  Anything messing with, bumping into, or getting near your cervix can cause the situation to get way worse.  Now, if you're not worried about PTL than no one is going to do a fFn test anyway, so none of this matters.

 

But still, I'm having issues with PTL and my midwives are comfortable with me checking my cervix because we're most concerned about changes to the cervix.  So how do I know I need to go in for intervention if I don't check my cervix?  Ctx are constant, but cervical change has been minimal, and I want to monitor that to make sure it stays that way!

 

I don't think anybody should be checking every day though.  I check maybe once or twice a week, in the shower after thoroughly scrubbing my hands and under fingernails with soap.  ;)

 

Every situation is different though.

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#15 of 19 Old 11-08-2012, 03:01 PM
 
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My midwives don't do routine cervical checks, which I SO prefer, but I have done some self checking on my own. It's really not hard, and it makes me glad that they don't check, because I've been at 1 cm for WEEKS now- had they checked and told me that it probably would have made me think something was happening soon! Plus, you're a lot less likely to get an infection if it's your own (clean) fingers doing the checking.

 

I couldn't feel my cervix at ALL until like 35-36 weeks. It was just too high. I don't see much point in checking before that anyway, though.


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#16 of 19 Old 11-09-2012, 05:38 PM
 
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If you're having issues with, or the possibility of preterm labor NO SEX allowed (not even non-penatrative orgasms)!  Anything messing with, bumping into, or getting near your cervix can cause the situation to get way worse.  Now, if you're not worried about PTL than no one is going to do a fFn test anyway, so none of this matters.

 

But still, I'm having issues with PTL and my midwives are comfortable with me checking my cervix because we're most concerned about changes to the cervix.  So how do I know I need to go in for intervention if I don't check my cervix?  Ctx are constant, but cervical change has been minimal, and I want to monitor that to make sure it stays that way!

 

I don't think anybody should be checking every day though.  I check maybe once or twice a week, in the shower after thoroughly scrubbing my hands and under fingernails with soap.  ;)

 

Every situation is different though.

 

Yeah, but if you arent having issues with PTL, and you are just checking to make sure that everything is okay and you havent dilated during BH ctx or something, than how can the test help if you've had sex? 

DH and I agreed that we would be having no sex between 32-37 weeks, but Im not just going to not have sex at all just because twins put me at a higher risk for PTL. Does that make sense?


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#17 of 19 Old 11-09-2012, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, but if you arent having issues with PTL, and you are just checking to make sure that everything is okay and you havent dilated during BH ctx or something, than how can the test help if you've had sex? 

I assume that if you went in to the hospital/clinic to be checked out for preterm labor after sex they would go ahead and check your cervix for dilation and have you come back in for the FFN test in 24 hours.  So I would totally go ahead and check myself if I had just had sex and was worried about potential dilation.  


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#18 of 19 Old 11-10-2012, 10:18 AM
 
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Yeah, but if you arent having issues with PTL, and you are just checking to make sure that everything is okay and you havent dilated during BH ctx or something, than how can the test help if you've had sex? 

DH and I agreed that we would be having no sex between 32-37 weeks, but Im not just going to not have sex at all just because twins put me at a higher risk for PTL. Does that make sense?

I don't know why you would have the test if you haven't had any reason to suspect PTL.  If you did need the test and had recently had sex (or checked your own cervix) they would still perform it, most likely, it just wouldn't be the most ideal circumstances.

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#19 of 19 Old 11-11-2012, 12:25 PM
 
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Anna,

 I meant checking yourself, not the test. If you were to have sex, then go about your day and start having BH then checked yourself for dilation and found that you were dilated and THEN went in for testing. Sorry so confusing. 

 

 

And Brambleberry, that does make sense that they'd just test you the next day. 


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