Checking own cervix for dilation? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 11-03-2006, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello wise women...this may seem like an odd question, but is it possible to check your own cervix for dilation as you near your due date? And how would one go about doing this? I haven't had any internal exams from my midwives, and I won't be having any until labour most likely, but I'm just curious if I can do it myself...

I realize that I might not get any info, or even if I do feel slight dilation, it's not definitive and won't really tell me much (i.e. I could be 3cm for a week, or 0cm and go into labour that same day), but I'm really just curious...would I even be able to reach it in the first place? I've never done it before, and it must be even more complicated with a huge belly...

A + J = Miriam (November 2006) and Raymond (June 2010)
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#2 of 24 Old 11-03-2006, 04:58 PM
 
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I couldn't check myself but I have heard some people can. I could feel the baby's head which was cool. I asked my midwives to check me a couple times before labor began. I didn't really have any internals in labor though.
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#3 of 24 Old 11-03-2006, 05:42 PM
 
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My cervix is posterior- so even now I can just barely feel the edge of it.
The easiest way is normally w/ one foot up on the toilet, or you can try squatting.
Your dh might be able to do it for you...

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#4 of 24 Old 11-03-2006, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks ladies, I'm also wondering how I would even be able to tell how many cm I'm dilated, if any...and what other information can be gathered from a cervix check or internal exam?

A + J = Miriam (November 2006) and Raymond (June 2010)
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#5 of 24 Old 11-03-2006, 07:37 PM
 
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I could check myself- in all my pregnancies- squatting on the floor or the tub
or sitting on the toilet works best
my arm went along side my belly and when reaching in to start with my elbow was maybe near my knee
use 2 fingers index and fore your thumb is over your other fingers sort of like a
closed peace sign - if the cervix is facing foreward then you may be able to feel dilation ,that would be can a fingertip fit tight or loose? in or 2 fingers together? if you need to spread your fingers apart to feel the openess then you would have to try and reconstruct how wide apart they were inside- and set them along a cm measuring tape outside.
effacement is if the cervix tissue is thin and the length of it tells you some things about it so if you feel a nose like protrusion in front of a head and some tissue thickness around the head then you are less effaced
fully effaced feels like there is very little tissue between the head and your fingers and you can sometimes even feel hair- the cervix not be protruding much in this case--
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#6 of 24 Old 11-04-2006, 01:12 AM
 
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I've been thinking this same question...and i am due on the same date as you! (which...of course...means nothing...hahaha)

Anyways--I did try to check, and my cervix must be SUPER high up there--can't feel a thing! So...does your cervix lower as you get closer? Or does the baby's head push down more, causing your cervix to be lower so you (or m/w) can eventually feel it?
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#7 of 24 Old 11-04-2006, 03:45 AM
 
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I love that women want to check themselves.....it makes sense to me.
I wish more partners would learn to do vag exams too....
Touch the tip of your nose....that is what your cervix feels like....it usually gets softer as you get closer to your due date....sometimes it is up high and posterior, so it is hard to feel...but keep trying. As far as what it measures...take some different size kitches glasses, turn them over and trace them on a piece of paper. Measure the circles and then practice how your fingers feel on the different sizes.....then practice on anything with an opening.....it just takes practice....
Carla
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#8 of 24 Old 11-04-2006, 11:18 AM
 
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yea when I was first learning to do midwifery I would size everything- door nobs- cans- glasses, faucet spouts--
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#9 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 12:09 AM
 
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My first experience with birth was at a birth center in El Paso. I had the hardest time checking even other women's cervixes (cervicies?), so I can imagine that it would be difficult (though often possible) to check one's own. Throughout most of pregnancy, I've learned, many (most?) women's cervicies face their backs, and along with dilation and effacement, the cervix must move into an anterior (facing mom's front and thus lined up with the birth canal) postion before babe can be born. I think I missed all those cervicies at the birth center becuase I wasn't reaching up far enough behind the uterus looking for the posterior cervix. I expected 'em to be right there at the end of the vagina.
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#10 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 01:16 AM
 
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good point you can really end up putting your fingers all the way in to reach
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#11 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 01:27 AM
 
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I could never check my own, it was just too far posterior.

I too have had problems with cervixes until I learned that sometimes you have to go way back. but it I can't feel the cervix because it's too far posterior, then I'm not too worried that baby is coming soon!
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#12 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 01:34 AM
 
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Someone told me there is a mothod to check with the space in your thorax or your ribs. I am not sure if that is true or not.
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#13 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 02:25 AM
 
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ok ok ok wait...

Normally, when I'm NOT pg, my cervix can be felt on what I would call the front wall of my vagina--so 'belly side'...
Are you saying that my cervix gets so high that I actually need to reach all the way in there and look for it on the BACK wall of my vagina--or 'back side?'

Or is it just at the very end of my vagina? (the 'dead end')

And again--when the baby drops, will it be easier to feel--ie I won't have to stick my entire hand in there to find it?
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#14 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 03:34 AM
 
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well I guess you will just have to check and see-- it does usually get a bit higher if the baby isn't deeply engaged and yep it might be posterior or it could be frontwards-- my cervix that is normally lower and forward does move up and back while I am pregnant until the baby comes down more
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#15 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 02:00 PM
 
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I wasn't able to-- it was WAY posterior--
but I kept trying! I had just finished my course in El Paso (Hi Alison!) when I got preg. so I was dying to keep up the skills by practicing on myself-- I thought I would be such a great subject to practice everything I learned. I was wrong!
Besides, my belly was HUGE (I think b/c the babe was so long and I have a pretty short torso) that I could hardly get in very far......

I could JUST touch the edge. Far enuf to put in some EPO, but not to check dilation :

Miles (December 2005) Pascual (March 2009). P's was my beautiful home waterbirth that healed me from my M's birth. natural birth, midwifery, postpartum depression, babywearing, breastfeeding.
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#16 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 04:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mrs_Hos View Post
when the baby drops, will it be easier to feel--ie I won't have to stick my entire hand in there to find it?
It depends. A lot of times when baby drops (if baby drops at all...sometimes they don't until labor with multips), baby's head ends up in front of the cervix, so someone doing a vaginal exam has to follow the curve of babe's head around, then on the backside of the head, look for the cervix. That's a posterior cervix (the ones where when a nurse or dr. checks it feel like they're looking for your tonsils!) and it GENERALLY won't be very effaced or dilated. It is sometimes an entire finger's length inside the vagina.

An anterior cervix is where the cervix is in front of baby's head, not behind, and would be much easier for a mother to feel herself. It is usually starting to thin and possibly dilate (though I've found that about 90% of mothers don't dilate at all before labor starts, no matter what their OBs or L&D nurses are telling them!). It is much closer to the vaginal opening...maybe 1 or 2 knuckles inside the vagina.

I feel like I didn't explain that well at all! :

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#17 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 06:53 PM
 
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I checked mine all the time during my pregnancy with my ds...especially when prodromal labor started six weeks before his birth. It made me feel a LOT better to know that all of that work was DOING something! I found it easiest to feel for it when I was sitting on the toilet. I also think it's a lot easier to know what you're feeling for if you know your cervix before you get a belly that you have to reach around! I use natural family planning, so check my cervix daily for mucous and position. Soooo, I was familliar with it when I was preganant and in labor.

In fact, when I transferred care from one midwife to another in mid labor, I was able to check myself before I left for the hospital and tell her that I was completely effaced and dilated to about a 4.5(which may not have been such a good idea, she thought I was gonna have a baby in the car on the way there... ), so that she was waiting for me by the time I got there.

I think it's wonderful to not to have to ask permission of another person to know what your body is doing...for me, especially as a doula, it means that it's just another way that a woman's birth is something SHE does, not something that is done to her.

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#18 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 09:12 PM
 
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Here is a good article that helped me....

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

 
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Mama to Xavier (July 02) , Colin (Sept 04), Khéna(Nov 06) & Wilhelmina (Jan 10)
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#19 of 24 Old 11-05-2006, 10:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by paxye View Post
Here is a good article that helped me....

http://www.joyousbirth.info/articles...xlearning.html
What a great article. Thanks for sharing it.

This is really interesting to me.

Curiosity got the better of me tonight and I had to check. Don't think I felt the cervix but I'm pretty sure I felt the head! That really makes me want to meet this baby even more now!!

Mama to DS1 (4/04) DS2 (HBAC 11/06) DS3 (HBAC 12/08) DS4 (HBAC 1/11). Wife to one handsome hard working DH.
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#20 of 24 Old 11-06-2006, 12:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Charmie981 View Post
It depends. A lot of times when baby drops (if baby drops at all...sometimes they don't until labor with multips), baby's head ends up in front of the cervix, so someone doing a vaginal exam has to follow the curve of babe's head around, then on the backside of the head, look for the cervix. That's a posterior cervix (the ones where when a nurse or dr. checks it feel like they're looking for your tonsils!) and it GENERALLY won't be very effaced or dilated. It is sometimes an entire finger's length inside the vagina.

An anterior cervix is where the cervix is in front of baby's head, not behind, and would be much easier for a mother to feel herself. It is usually starting to thin and possibly dilate (though I've found that about 90% of mothers don't dilate at all before labor starts, no matter what their OBs or L&D nurses are telling them!). It is much closer to the vaginal opening...maybe 1 or 2 knuckles inside the vagina.

I feel like I didn't explain that well at all! :
Nope...made total sense to me!
And I LOVED the article link paxye! THANKS! I'm going to check again, next shower!
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#21 of 24 Old 11-06-2006, 12:48 AM
 
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Fabulous article, many thanks!
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#22 of 24 Old 11-09-2006, 04:08 AM
 
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Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#23 of 24 Old 11-09-2006, 04:13 AM
 
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Ummmm.......if you reach straight back, I come to an ending. If I push forward or lift middle finger towards palm, I feel an opening.

Is the cervix on the top of the vaginal wall? :

I thought it would be directly at the end of the tunnel but that seems to just be skin.

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#24 of 24 Old 11-09-2006, 08:48 PM
 
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my experience checking my own cervix was really interesting, particularly looking back on it:

in pregnancy, including up until due date: could check my own cervix standing in the shower pretty easily, even as it became somewhat (but not very) posterior and as my belly got bigger and bigger.

in labor: i checked once in the shower, and things felt so foreign down there (as things move down and tighten and such). i guessed that i was around 5cm based on the new contours inside, but it wasn't like a hole, cause the baby's head was right there... it was just, well, contours.

the midwife came about two hours later and checked me. i was around 7cm with a small lip, so i think my guess when i checked myself was right, despite my inexperience.

then labor continued but the lip swelled more which kept my cervix around 7 or 8 for the next 5 or 6 hours. i never checked it myself during that time... we decided to do AROM near the end of that period with the hope of bringing down the babies head more evenly since it was presenting kind of funny, possibly contributing to the swollen lip. still have mixed feelings on that, but moving on... midwife did one more check after AROM. i was around 8 and strechier, but still not major progress or anything.

i got back in the tub. my body started pushing. being my first baby, i didn't know what things would feel like. i felt something starting to come out, but i didn't know what it was (baby, duh)! i tried to check myself but everything was hard and i couldn't find anything (again, baby was right there, duh)! in retrospect, it now makes sense. the final progress was just really fast and i spent the whole time trying not to push and the baby just came out so fast.

here's the catch: shortly after checking myself and being too nonverbal to say anything even along the lines of "something's there," there was an unusual incident. i was in the birth tub and apparently (i didn't see it but everyone else did) a rather large plume of blood shot out of me during a contraction. i could tell that something was up from the tone my midwife used telling me i had to get out of the tub now so she could check me (gentle and kind but COMPLETELY authoritative), but i still wasn't worried or anything.

when i finally hauled myself (with much help from everyone) to the arm chair next to the birth tub, the midwife was at the table getting some equipment when the doula said "the baby is coming!" and then seeing my confused look, she smiled at me, "your having a baby!" (i wasn't completely sure the rest of me wasn't coming out too, until she said that). next contraction (with me trying to slow things down and not push) out came the nead. next one after that, the rest. our baby!!!

so, what was up with the sudden out-of-tub neccessity? because the last check had shown me incompletely dialated, and i had JUST started having push contractions (the baby came down within 15 minutes, my first baby) she was worried i had torn my cervix and that had caused the blood. in fact, i had just torn my periurethral area a bit which bleeds a lot but is not a major complication.

so, the moral of the story is that i found checking myself to be really useful and informative, BUT i didn't have the familiarity with what a birthing cervix felt like nor did i have the verbal ability to communicate what i was feeling to our birth team which would have been quite useful for me to relieve the concern about the blood and to be able to stay in the water, which i wanted to do.

i feel much more confident about doing my own cervical exams next time, now that i have an idea what things will feel like down there. of course, for a first birth, without access to anyone elses cervix for practice, i'm not sure how you gain that experience, other than expecting things to feel different than your used to.

best.
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