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PSA – Dilation is not spelled or said dial-ation. That is all.
As one nears the end of pregnancy, I often have moms ask me “At what point will they do a vaginal exam on me?”. My response to that question has two parts. First, it’s your vagina and body so if you would like a vaginal exam that is the perfect time to get one or have a conversation with your care provider about getting one. If you don’t want one, that’s the best time to not have one and/or have a conversation with your care provider about declining such an exam. My second response as to when you will get a vaginal exam is to talk about what sort of information a vaginal exam will and will not tell and the emotional implications that may or may not ensue. Here’s a fun little post I wrote all about that entitled Your Vagina is Not a Crystal Ball.
I am a self-proclaimed cervix checker. Since having read and implemented the information found in Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler I have been aware of my cervix and how it changes during my monthly cycle and in pregnancy. In early pregnancy it was soft and mushy, in the beginning of the second trimester is was hard, firm (like the tip of my nose) and VERY anterior (angled towards the front of my body). Now, it is posterior (facing towards my back), hard to reach and very mushy.
Here’s now I check my cervix: When I take a shower I get all clean and make sure my hands are super clean. I get into a squat position, use my index and middle finger and go back as far as I can go. Waaaaay back there I can just reach my cervix. Since I have been checking my cervix for years I have a frame of reference – I know where I’ll usually find it, and what it feels like.
Did you know that your cervix is your uterus? The cervix is talked about so often, that I think we forget that it’s not its own entity. The cervix is part of the uterus, the opening or the mouth. Isn’t that cool?
Anyways, so today I checked my cervix and it was mushy, gushy and hard to reach. However, I’m pretty sure I’m 1/1.5 centimeter(s) dilated (which I think is pretty common for a mom who has already had a baby?? Correct me if I’m wrong.)
The reasons I want to check myself in pregnancy are 1) So that I know what my body is doing and I don’t have to ask another person what my own body is doing. It does make me feel more in control more part of the process rather than the process is happening to me. 2) I’d like to be able to check my own cervix in labor because you know what? Vaginal checks in labor freaking suck. Typically, you have to climb on the bed, which causes a contraction, get on your back, which causes a contraction and then the vaginal exam in itself causes a contraction. I’m sure that’s not what it was really like when I was in labor, but it REALLY SUCKED. I’d rather just figure it out for myself and skip the extra suckage on an already intense situation.
Did or do you check your cervix in pregnancy, labor or in general? I’d love to hear your experience!
Just for fun I’ve created a Cervical Dilation Visual Guide just for you. It’s a PDF, so you should be able to print it (if you have really long paper). Enjoy!