Self-done Cervical Checks? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-21-2008, 10:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello again! I'm wanting some advice on a totally different topic now!

We are planning a homebirth with a midwife. This is our first baby.

I basically want the midwife there to check the baby's heart rate from time to time, and to be there just in case something really rare happens, like a haemorrhage or a shocky baby who is having trouble breathing.

I've told them (two midwives, one of whom will actually be at the birth) that we want to do our own thing. They are totally fabulous.

DH wants to catch the baby, I don't want vaginal exams done, don't want my water broken, don't tell me when to "PUSH!" no cheerleading, etc. Basically, leave me and our baby alone and watch for anything unusual or alarming.

Question: Should I do cervical checks on myself? Are they useful?? Does anyone do these themselves during birth?

I can't really understand what good they do, unless you feel strange, or that labour has "stalled." My body will know when to push.

I felt my cervix last night, and it's really soft, I would say about 40% effaced when compared to my non-pregnant cervix. (I'm feeling for the "length" of my cervix when checking for effacement, right?) and about 1 cm dilated.

Interesting..... but is that information really that useful? Should I be doing checks during labour? Should I get DH to do them?

I want a private, primal, sexual birth. That's the way things were when DH and I made him or her, that's the way I want to birth.

DH wants a "basics of birth" book to read so he knows about dilation, effacement, transition, descent, perineum support, crowning, delivery, etc. He wants to do a "good job" of catching.

Should I just have him read the back section of Spiritual Midwifery for the "mechanics" of birth? I figured Experience of Childbirth by S.K. would be good for the philosophy of birth.

What do you all think?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Trin.
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Old 02-21-2008, 11:14 PM
 
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There are a lot of useful books for a basics of birth rundown- personally I like Penny Simkin's Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn. Both Ina May books are useful IMO, those were my favorite for preparing the first time by far.

I had three cervical checks during my (8.5 hour) labor. Only one I felt was actually useful, though I was curious and happy to have them done. My midwife checked me when she first arrived, and then again when I wanted to get into the tub. I was a very calm and quiet birther, with none of the "regular" signs of early vs. active vs transition for her to go by. I was at 6cm at that point, and after 20 minutes in the water my body started pushing. At that point I asked her to check me to make sure I was really fully dilated- that's the check I feel was really useful. I'd read many birth stories where women felt the urge to push before they were fully dilated, and because it happened SO fast, with none of the "signposts" of transition that I'd read about, I wanted the reassurance that it was okay to let go and let my body push her out. I was fully dilated, and it was fantastic

So on the one hand, I don't think checks are very predictive of anything, since in my experience I didn't follow any typical time table at all. On the other hand, depending on particular circumstances I think they can be useful or reassuring if you feel like you want that in the moment. I guess I'd say it's a good idea to know how to do them yourself (or to have DH know how, since in the midst of labor you may not be able to, or want to focus on that), and then just see how you feel in the moment.
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Old 02-22-2008, 12:05 AM
 
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Hi Trinnity, I could be wrong but I *think* we're in the same city. I had a home waterbirth with dd almost 3 years ago that was just about as hands off as you'd expect...mw was there for a total of 3.5 hours of a 16 hour labour, and by 1.5 hours after she was born we were on our own tucked up cozy in bed. So you can get this kind of birth with a local midwife s
As for cervical checks, I think it's great that you're thinking about that. I had two during my labour and, well...they weren't the most useful things. The first one told me I was only 1 cm after about 7+ hrs of labour & I was disappointed. But after that things got going and 6 hours later I was at 9cm--dilated enough for my mw to tell me it was okay to push. Thing is, my body was already telling me to push (like crazy!) and having to interrupt all that, get out of the tub etc for the check was big drag. At the same time good to have the info. But I hear ya...you should be able to refuse the checks...or do them yourself. Good luck! sounds like a beautiful birth you've got planned!
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Old 02-22-2008, 12:41 AM
 
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Hey, Trin. Sounds like you and I are in the same boat! My mw doesn't do any internal exams unless I request them. She's says she has other, less invasive, more helpful ways of gauging my progress. I'm not planning on requesting them, cause I know I tend to obsess about numbers, and I don't think that'll be helpful (I plan to hide all the clocks, too ) She also mentioned that after my waters break, she'd advise against any internal exams in order to prevent infection. I asked whether I should be doing self-exams at this point, and she said it's entirely up to me, but if I'm curious, it can't hurt to explore my body. I've tried a couple times in the last few weeks, but my cervix is still so far up and back, I can't reach it with my short fingers (not to mention my big belly in the way!)

Bottom line is, based on my mw's advise, I feel like cervical checks are not at all necessary, but can be useful depending on the mother's needs.

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Old 02-22-2008, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses!

I've got DH reading sections of three different books today, so he should be an expert by the time I get home.

YES, Jess, we're in the same city..... and I'm pretty sure we are using the same midwifery group! I'm REALLY happy to hear that you had a laid-back, hands-off birth with them, as I had expected them to be with me based on their personalities. Good to know it carries over into the birth!

Have you had your home visit yet?

Trin.
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Old 02-22-2008, 06:56 PM
 
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I can't for the life of me discern anything on myself. I try to feel around when I insert my EPO but it's just like...okay...squishyness. Do I just suck?
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:16 PM
 
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What is it supposed to feel like? How can you tell your effacement? I tried to check a few weeks ago out of curiousity, and it felt-well-freaky. I guess I am used to my non-pregnant cervix. I need to try it agian cause I am curious-can you easily feel the 'hole' in your cervix? It might totally freak me out. I almost became a nurse becuase I am fascinated with physiology-but the actual stuff is just kinda-icky- to me. Good think I never went to nursing school-I would never have made it! DH noticed my cervix was really low a few nights ago DTD-he said it's crowded in there
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:57 PM
 
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This is slightly off-topic....but HOW would you do that yourself?

Am I the only one who can barely reach to wipe? :
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I notice that I'm effaced because I remember how "long" my cervix was before pregnancy and earlier in pregnancy.

Like, how far is it from the tip of the cervix (where the hole is) up and along it to the top of my vagina, where it meets the bottom of the womb. ][

Pre-pregnancy and early pregnancy, it was almost to my second knuckle on my middle finger.

Now, it's only to my first knuckle, really soft, and yes, I can feel the hole. It is a little strange to feel the hole, and I'm very careful. I can also feel the baby's head through the wall at the top my vagina, bottom of the womb, kind of around and above the cervix.

Does that help?

Trin.

LOL Kdaisy, okay, I'll paint a picture.... (things you'd only say online)

It's not as easy to feel it as it used to be.

I do it sitting-down in the (drained) bathtub, on my butt/back, I scrunch forward and just put my hand/arm on one side of my belly and reach inside. I can reach that way without too much trouble breathing. Or, you could raise your leg up high, prop it on the side of the tub and reach around your haunch/bum if that's easier than dealing with the belly.

Trin.
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Old 02-22-2008, 09:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdaisy View Post
This is slightly off-topic....but HOW would you do that yourself?

Am I the only one who can barely reach to wipe? :
I can hardly get the toilet paper in the toilet after a pee and can hardly imagine checking myself. We too are having a HB and many experienced MWs can know without needing to check if a woman is ready to push, so I wouldn't worry about that too much.

For your husband, letting him read Spiritual Midwifery would be a good start. Good luck! It won't be long!
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Old 02-23-2008, 05:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
I can't for the life of me discern anything on myself. I try to feel around when I insert my EPO but it's just like...okay...squishyness. Do I just suck?
I was wondering about this too! I can feel my cervix just fine when I'm not pregnant, but everything just feels so different and squishy, I can't seem to find my cervix anywhere

I'm so curious what it's doing, but being 38w+, I'm sure I will find out soon enough anyhow
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Old 02-23-2008, 11:02 PM
 
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You can check out this site www.purebirth-australia.com since you are planning basically an unassisted birth, with the midwife there as backup. There is good info for self-care and preparing for birth as well as mechanics of birth.
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
I can't for the life of me discern anything on myself. I try to feel around when I insert my EPO but it's just like...okay...squishyness. Do I just suck?
I've asked my husband to check me a few times ( in this pregnancy and the last pregnancy) and he always says "It just feels like ... chicken."

I think what might be happening for you is that you are not actually reaching your cervix -- it may be way too high right now. If that's the case, well, then what you CAN reach may just be all the same -- vagina vagina vagina. Vagina on the left. Vagina on the right. That's okay.

That's pretty much all I can feel on myself right now, even though it was much lower and forward and effaced and dilated at 29 weeks than it is now at 36.5. My cervix is up there somewhere. And, it'll come forward and a little bit down and then efface and dilate and let my baby out (and yours will do the same ) . Eventually. That's what I tell myself every day. My first 3 babies came out. This one, too, will eventually come out.
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