Are vag. exams painful? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 05-09-2008, 08:08 PM - Thread Starter
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I gave birth to an amazing little girl 7 weeks ago at a home birth.
The last prenatal appointment my midwife wanted to 'check me', I was hesitant but said okay. It was extremely painful, I thought maybe since I had never had one..[But I could check my own cervix which didn't hurt at all]
Once I was in labor two days later when she arrived she wanted to check where I was at. I said okay but did not want it at all. It was extremely painful again and I was pushing with my feet up the bed to get away from her hand, and I was almost to the point of getting hysterical.

Are they always that painful? I just feel since my baby came, I think less than two days later,.. was it the exam or my baby being ready?
Did she strip the membranes or something? Is that why it hurt so bad and I bled afterwards?
I just feel EXTREMELY violated, and I think about it constantly.
I dont know if it was normal or not.
I wanted an intervention free birth, and when I think about my birth I just think about the pain of the exam[which was much more than the birth!]
I cant get over it.
Thank you for any answers.

Mama to Belly(5), homesteading in the desert with our chickens and sheep. Fish nerd, really into my reef tank. Baby due Sep 3rd!

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#2 of 22 Old 05-09-2008, 08:17 PM
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It depends. With my first pregnancy, they were incredibly painful for me too. And like you, I was sort of inching away from the doctor as she did the exam. Even when I was in active labor, the internal exams were incredibly painful.

However this time? No pain at all. It's not even uncomfortable. I think my cervix is in a different position.

You don't have to consent to these exams. Really, unless there is a question about the baby's position or some other reason, checking your cervix/baby's station will only satisfy curiosity. You could be dilated for 2 cm for weeks ... or you could be totally closed and go into labor quickly.

I'm so sorry that you are feeling so violated and upset. I would just keep in mind if you decide to have another baby in the future that it is YOUR choice whether to have the internals.
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#3 of 22 Old 05-09-2008, 08:36 PM
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I'm so sorry you feel violated. s

I was checked and never felt a bit more uncomfortable than when I checked myself. I'm pretty sure I (accidentally) stripped my own membranes just by checking myself out, since my water broke within minutes of my check in the shower.... but no matter who did it, it was never physically uncomfortable. It not only didn't compare to my birth (painwise), it didn't even compare to BH ctx. It didn't even compare to bending over to tie my shoes.

Please note that I am not judging you one bit. I'm just sharing an alternate experience. For me, internals were absolutely no big deal. I am abolutely not trying one bit to say that yours *should have* been not big deal though.

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#4 of 22 Old 05-09-2008, 09:07 PM
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My last few prenatal exams were very uncomfortable. I guess it depends on the purpose of the exam. If she was just determining effacement and dilation, I don't guess it should be terribly painful, but if she was trying to cause dilation to progress, it could be very very uncomfortable. Also, determining the baby's station in the pelvis is really yucky because the ishial spines have to be located. I also understand (not from personal experience) that stripping membranes is painful. But maybe your mw just doesn't have a gentle touch. I would definitely decline them next time around, and probably change mw's unless you have a good relationship with her. If you do have good rapport, I'd recommend calling her and discussing your feelings about what happened and maybe find out why it hurt so much. I cannot imagine it would be healthy for you to be constantly thinking about this, especially if you feel violated.
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#5 of 22 Old 05-09-2008, 09:12 PM
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With my first I had my membrane stripped at it was a very painful experience for me. I know for some women it isn't that bad. As for the vaginal exams, I think a lot depends on who does them. I had 2 or 3 with dd and 2 with ds. One of them with dd (at the hospital, a triage nurse) was painful the other two were done by my ob and I felt some pressure but it wasn't painful (except when he stripped my membranes, that hurt) With ds both vaginal exams I had were done by my OB and I hardly felt them. That ob also did my 6 weeks pp check and a PAP 2ism months after that I didn't have any discomfort with those exams either like I have had in the past.
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#6 of 22 Old 05-09-2008, 09:50 PM
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What I have had done at this point didn't hurt. What I feel is more important though is: have you talked to your midwife about it hurting? It would probably be good for you to talk to her about it. She will hopefully validate you and apologize and that might help you feel better going forward. Processing is your friend.

My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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#7 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 12:47 AM
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I think that pain is common. You should talk to your midwife about it, maybe she is not gentle enough and could improve on that. I would also ask her if she stripped your membrane because if she did that without your consent, that's not right.

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#8 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 01:00 AM
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My first one at 32 weeks (had to go to L&D for pre-term ctx) was excruciating. The nurse even made some crack about me not being able to handle labor without meds

Subsequent ones at my later appts. were still painful and uncomfortable, but not quite as bad as the first one.

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#9 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 02:36 AM
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They have always been painful for me. I had similar happen 8 months ago. The midwife kept checking me and then decided to "help me along" as I wasn't dilating fast enough for her. I almost kicked her in the face (accidentally) in a desperate attempt to get her hand out of me and to get away from her. It was the most excruciating thing I have ever experienced.

I felt so violated. Still do. To the point where after the birth I could hardly look at my midwife I felt so violated. I am just now starting to think about the birth without that being the only thing I can really focus on.

I am sorry you are feeling so violated. I know how hard that can be and how upsetting and disappointing it is. I wish I had some advice, but i will say it does get better. Be gentle with yourself. Maybe writing in a journal would help? And if you can, talk to your midwife. I didn't have the courage to at the time and I feel that it made things harder for me.
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#10 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 09:52 AM
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In my experience, when my cervix was checked those set off the worst contractions I had ever felt.

It definitely sounds like she did a membrane strip/sweep at your prenatal appt.
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#11 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 10:36 AM
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I've heard from others they are very painful. I don't get them at all for many reasons (and wouldn't unless I thought they had pertinent information I needed), including that they don't usually help anything. stressful.
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#12 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 09:31 PM
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They can be painful and they are almost never necessary.

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#13 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 10:41 PM
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When I was stripped it was pretty painful- not nearly as painful as the subsequent foley though.
I do distinctly remember that being checked while in labour was absolutely horrid
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#14 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 11:12 PM
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Mine were terribly painful until I was in really good intense active labor. I think it can have to do with the position of the cervix, the baby and how dilated/effaced it is. In general the cervix can be quite tender in pregnancy.

If your first exam was painful it might have been one of these factors, if it still hurt in labor it might have been a fear response resulting from the trauma of the first check.

So sorry mama, that sounds pretty traumatic.

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#15 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 11:39 PM
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mine were never painful, neither was having my membranes stripped (uncomfortable yes, but not painful at all.) I've also had a catherter several times and never had pain.

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#16 of 22 Old 05-10-2008, 11:50 PM
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I had them with my first and found them extremely uncomfortable. I think what you are feeling is normal. Especially if the cervix is still far back, they really have to get their hand all the way in there.

I have had NONE so far this pregnancy and don't plan to, unless it's necessary when i'm in labor for some reason. Like others said there is really no reason for them in general.
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#17 of 22 Old 05-11-2008, 12:49 AM
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Cervical exams are painful for me.
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#18 of 22 Old 05-11-2008, 08:40 AM
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They can be painful and they are almost never necessary
Mine hurt like hell. I refused them for my 2nd pg.
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#19 of 22 Old 05-12-2008, 03:37 PM
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Mine never hurt, even the one I had during labor (I was tired and asked for one, but it would have been better to skip it, since knowing my dilation gave me an excuse to start pushing too soon).

However, a friend of mine said all her exams during labor were excruciating, and it sounded like she had a lot of them. She really liked her OB, but said the exams hurt so much that she kicked her several times! It doesn't sound like a good idea to me - that sort of stress can't be good for helping labor along. But I know my friend's membranes weren't being stripped, since her water broke at the beginning of labor. (So I don't think pain has to mean membrane stripping every time.)

I'm sorry this happened to you. Asking the midwife is probably a good idea. And for next time, remember that VEs really aren't very useful. Knowing dilation doesn't matter, since it can change so fast. I think it's better not to have them in most cases.
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#20 of 22 Old 05-13-2008, 03:02 PM
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They hurt. I had three or 4:

1) 26 weeks pregnant & in the hospital contracting every 5 minutes. That nurse was gentle & it only hurt a little bit. I was just HUGELY relieved to hear her say "high and closed."

2) The next day when I went back for the 2nd steroid shot. THAT ONE HURT. Different nurse.

3) This wasn't really a cervical check. but when my water broke at 32 weeks, the student midwife in the ER stuck the litmus paper in to make sure it was really broken. Don't know WHAT she was doing but it hurt like mad.

4) When I was starting to push, the dr. came running in saying "DON'T PUSH YOU MIGHT NOT BE READY." Then she checked. I was fully complete & was DEFINITELY READY. (I could have told you that!!) I didn't feel A THING at that point other than big baby head pressure!

If I had it to do over again, I'd have refused # 2 and # 3. Duh, I know my water broke, I'm not a moron!
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#21 of 22 Old 05-13-2008, 11:00 PM
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For me, it really had to do with who was doing the exam. When it was my OB--very painful. One of the most painful parts of the whole process. When it was the nurses in the hospital, it was a little uncomfortable, but not painful at all. On the other hand, when the nurse was trying to move the last little lip of cervix--very painful!

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#22 of 22 Old 05-14-2008, 12:19 AM
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I didn't really feel the ones that happened during labor (all during very active labor). The one I've had when not in labor was uncomfortable, as the mw warned it would be due to the position of my cervix.

Cervical checks are often overdone - there isn't really any reason to do them until you feel the urge to push, unless you want one.

Do you find pap smears and other gynecological examinations painful? What about putting medicine in, like for a yeast infection? I used to have a lot of difficulty with these things and found them very painful. After learning to deal better with them, I realized a lot of the pain was due to my mental discomfort. If you tense up your muscles it hurts more. If you are nervous it hurts more. If you expect it to hurt it hurts more. That doesn't mean you can make it painless by changing your attitude; you can probably make it less painful by focusing on relaxing through it. You should probably try to limit your cervical checks in the future now that you know how uncomfortable you are with them.
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