A cervical check during pregnancy is a procedure that physicians carry out on women to determine the condition of the uterus in preparation for childbirth.
Cervical exams, especially late in pregnancy, are not pleasant experiences for anyone who has ever been pregnant and had to undergo one. To make matters worse, during the last few weeks of pregnancy, your cervix will be swollen and more sensitive to the examination of the physician’s gloved fingers.
Knowing how to check your cervix for pregnancy labor and the right time to do it is very essential to grade your childbirth. Here is a detailed guide that covers all questions relating to cervical screening in pregnancy.
What is a cervical check in pregnancy?
This is a medical examination that involves a physician screening your cervix to determine its health during pregnancy. In this check, your doctor will use fingers with gloves to feel the cervix in the vagina.
Once they locate the cervix, they medically calculate how open or dilated it is, whether or not it is ready to go into labor, and how thin it has become.
Why is cervical check in pregnancy important?
Checking the cervix during the last few weeks of pregnancy is necessary to monitor the progress of labor. Dilation (the opening of the cervix) and effacement (thinning out of the cervix) are two important things your doctor will examine during this check.
However, these symptoms aren’t always a reliable predictor of the right timing of your childbirth. This means that you can be in labor and delivering tomorrow while another patient could be 4 centimeters dilated for two weeks and still be awaiting her delivery.
Here are the complete reasons why cervical check during pregnancy is important for you:
- Dilation: The cervix is regarded as “dilated” if it has widened with which the highest point is 10 centimeters.
- Ripeness: The cervix’s firmness is a sign of ripeness. As it softens, it becomes more like the inside of a cheek and less like the tip of a nose at the beginning.
- Effacement: This is the cervix’s thinness. The diameter reduces with the softening and dilation of the cervix.
- Station: Cervical checks during pregnancy are also essential to calculate the baby’s position with respect to the pelvis. Zero-station babies are considered engaged, and babies with negative numbers are considered to be drifting.
- The baby’s position: The anterior and posterior fontanels of a baby’s skull, where the four bone plates have not yet joined, are signs that your physician uses to determine your baby’s location.
- Cervix position: A cervical screening helps to know the exact position of the cervix. As the cervix moves forward in the body, it shifts from its previous position in the rear to its current position in the front.
Risks of cervical check in pregnancy
Like most medical procedures, cervical check in pregnancy arrives with some risks. Premature rupture of the membranes or an increase in the risk of vaginal infection are both possible outcomes of the check. If your doctor insists on performing a cervical inspection at every visit, inquire to know the reason why they believe this is necessary.
Even when performed meticulously and with sterile gloves, a cervical exam can raise the risk of infection. When a woman undergoes an internal exam, the natural bacteria in her vagina may be pushed toward her cervix. The membranes might also be ruptured if too much pressure is applied to the cervix.
Some doctors use a procedure known as “stripping the membranes,” which separates the cervix from the bag of water. Prostaglandins are produced as a result of membrane stripping, which is intended to cause contractions in the cervix and help labor get started. This has not been proven to work for everyone, and it still has the same hazards.
How to check your cervix for pregnancy labor
1. Inform your physician
Pregnancy safety is critical to your health and that of your child after delivery. To confirm that your pregnancy is progressing regularly and that it is appropriate for you to examine your cervix for dilation, ensure that you are receiving competent obstetrical care from a physician.
In the ninth month of pregnancy, your obstetrician will begin to look for indicators that labor is imminent. An internal examination of your cervix is also part of this procedure. Whether the baby has “fallen,” or if the cervix is getting softer due to dilation, your physician will check everything.
Consult your doctor if you have any concerns, such as whether or not the baby has dropped. Inquire if it’s safe to examine dilation on your own as well. Pregnancy can proceed if it is safe for you and your baby.
2. Wash hands properly
Dirty hands can transfer bacteria that can lead to an illness during pregnancy. You need to insert your finger or hand into your vagina in order to do the cervix check. To ensure your health and the health of your baby, wash your hands properly.
It is best to wash with mild soap and warm water. Allow the water run on your hands then use soap. For at least 30 seconds, vigorously scrub your hands, being sure to cover all the surfaces. Rinse your hands completely after using soap.
If you don’t have soap, apply a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Make sure you have enough sanitizer for both hands in the palm of your hand. If you’ve ever used soap, massage your hands together and cover all the surfaces, including your nails, with the solution.
3. Take a comfortable position
It is important to be in a position where you can easily examine your cervix before proceeding. Just do whatever makes you most comfortable, whether that’s on the toilet or your couch with your legs wide open.
Before you begin, remove all of your lower body clothing. By doing this, you can avoid having to take them off when you’re ready to relax.
Sit or squat with one foot on the floor and the other on the toilet seat when using the restroom. Aside than lying down on the floor, you can also squat or rest on your stomach.
4. Insert two fingers into the cervix
The first cervical check in pregnancy you need is to assess the dilation of the cervix. Start with your second and middle fingers instead of inserting your full hand, which might be uncomfortable.
Before putting your fingers into your vagina, remember to properly wash your hands with soap and water.
With your fingertip, locate the opening of your vagina. You want the back of your hand to be facing your spine, and the palm of your hand to be facing up. Your cervix will be more easily felt if your fingers are angled back towards your anus. Remove your fingers if you experience any pain or discomfort.
When pregnant, your cervix resembles a pair of swollen lips. The puckered lips are where you want to feel your fingers once they’ve been slid into and up your vaginal canal.
5. Determine the extent of the dilation
If your cervix is 10 centimeters dilated, then you are ready to give birth. Using more fingers, you can determine the extent and progress of the dilation.
Insert your fingers into the vagina until you have to use your entire hand or it becomes painful. Look at how many finger widths you took by removing your hand. This will determine the overall results of the cervical check in pregnancy.
If you used only one finger, then it is 1cm dilated, two fingers are 2cm, and four fingers are 4cm. More than 3 cm of cervical dilation indicates that labor has progressed to the active phase. If you’ve decided to give birth at home, get everything ready at your home or in the birth center of your choice.
When is the best time for cervical checks in pregnancy
At the onset of pregnancy, most doctors do a Pap smear and another diagnostic testing. There are no more cervical exams until around 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy unless there are issues that necessitate further testing or the cervix needs to be assessed.