Did You Know? Dilation is not spelled or pronounced “dial-ation.” It’s actually, pronounced, “dye-lation.”
As one nears the last six weeks of pregnancy, I often have moms ask me “At what point will they do a vaginal exam on me?”. Or, “When will they check me?”
My Response has Two Parts
First, it’s your body and your vagina, so if you would like a vaginal exam this is the perfect time to get one, or to have a conversation with your care provider about getting one.
If you don’t want one, make your desires very clear when initiating conversation with your care provider about such an exam.
My second response deals with 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.
What is a cervix?
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?
I am a Self-Proclaimed Cervix Checker
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, in the third trimester, it is posterior (facing towards my back), hard to reach and very mushy.
Today (at 31 weeks) I checked my cervix and it was mushy, gushy and hard to reach. 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??)
Here’s How 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 and
- Use my index and middle finger, put them in my vagina
- And go back as far as I can go. Waaaaay back there I can just barely 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.
Reasons You’ll Want to Check Your Cervix in Pregnancy
1) So that you’ll know what your body is doing and you won’t have to ask someone else what is going on. It will make you feel more in control, more part of the process rather than that the process is happening to you.
2) You’ll want to be able to check your own cervix in labor because, you know what… vaginal checks in labor freaking suck. Typically, you have to climb on a bed, which causes a contraction, get on your back, which causes another contraction and then the vaginal exam in itself causes a contraction. At least, that’s how I remember my vaginal exam when I was in labor; it REALLY SUCKED. I’d rather just figure it out for myself and skip the extra suckage, as I’m sure you would. The situation was already tense enough.
Did or do you check your cervix in pregnancy, labor or in general? I’d love to hear your experience!
When should you NOT check your cervix in pregnancy?
- You should not check your cervix if your care provider has told you it’s not a good idea.
- You should not check your cervix if you have had any pre-term labor/dilation issues.
- You should not check your cervix if you have a low lying placenta OR your placenta is covering your cervix (placenta previa).
- You should not check your cervix if you have a cerclage.
- You should not check your cervix if your water has been broken. Remember, your vagina is not a vacuum cleaner BUT if you introduce bacteria via a vaginal exam you are increasing your chances of developing an infection.
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