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self prenatal care - the cervix!


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  #1  
January 5th, 2010, 07:17 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Sep 2009
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Hello!

I actually have a midwife - but I like to know what's going on and check my body myself. I know how to feel if my cervix is dilated (pretty obvious LOL!) but how do you tell if it's effaced? I'm especially interested b/c premies run in my family - so I want to be able to check things out!!!

Thank you!
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  #2  
January 5th, 2010, 08:10 PM
lhug_nar's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I'm interested in this too because DH is the one checking me. We know I'm dilated 2 cm already but have no clue on effacement.
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  #3  
January 5th, 2010, 11:36 PM
MrsPil's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Quad Cities
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There have been some discussions over on mothering about it but I don't know that we're allowed to post to other boards so I won't link but quote instead:

Quote:
This info does NOT apply if you think your waters broke - do not stick anything in your vagina in that situation!

Before I check, I wash my hands, then use Purell, and then some lube. Your cervix will be on the top of your vagina, up towards the back of the baby's head. Sometimes the baby will swivel or move when he/she feels you touching his head through the vaginal wall - it freaked me out a bit the first time I felt that, so just wanted to warn you! I am horrible about figuring out baby's station though, but you can tell if the baby has moved up or down if you check more than once.

Dilation - I measured my fingers (I have widish fingers) and so 3 fingers in is exactly 5cm on me. Doctors usually use 1 finger, and then the index and next finger for figuring dilation after that and guesstimate how far apart the fingers can go, so 1 finger to the baby's head (or butt) is 1ish cm, 2 fingers is 2ish (unless you have bigger fingers, I err on the small side of cm measuring because of this and because finger size varies). 2 a fingerswidth apart is 3cm and so on. It is way easier to just measure your fingers and do it that way though, as your fingers may be smaller or bigger. Also dilation is measured by how many fingers you can fit all the way to the baby's head or butt.

Effacement - your cervix starts out at roughly 4cm long, or your index finger to the 2nd knuckle. If you can fit your index in all the way and you are to the first knuckle, then you are roughly 50% effaced. If you cannot feel any lip of cervix at all, but just a hole, you are all the way effaced.

Anterior/Posterior Cervix - how anterior or posterior your cervix is can be a sign too. The cervix gets VERY posterior during pregnancy and starts to come down during labor to a more anterior position. If you really have to reach and/or can't find your cervix at all, you are more than likely pretty posterior. The easier it is to find, the more anterior it is.

Mucous Plug and/or spotting after - Chances are if you check your cervix, you *may* have some spotting and what looks like your plug afterward. Don't automatically assume that this is bloody show and you are going into labor within a few days - the cervix is very sensitive at this point and it does NOT take a lot to make it bleed a bit. Also, your mucous plug will regenerate if you are not going into labor soon (usually within 24 hours), and sometimes even if you are! Sex does the same thing, especially if it is rougher sex (although at this point, any sex would be nice! I am so ready for non-pregnant sex...). Just wanted to warn you all on that one so that you aren't checking at say 36 weeks and freaking out with "bloody show" that day or the next.

Waters Breaking - if you have had a child before and your waters broke early on, you may want to be extra careful if you check, because you *can* accidentally break your waters especially if you are prone to not so tough bags of waters. For some reason, mine is made out of Krypton :-D I cut my fingernails down so there was not as much of a risk of accidentally puncturing it.

Contractions After - Occasionally, you may have some contractions after, if you have been more invasive or your cervix is especially sensitive at that point. I try to do an in and out and not feel around too much to limit this. If you are prone to braxton hicks, be forewarned that checking has the potential to make them more noticeable/painful. I would also not check too early because you could possibly send yourself into labor.
Honestly if you've never tried to find it before I would seriously recommend buying a clear disposable speculum online (look around places that sell birth kits and supplies) and using it with a flashlight and a hand mirror. Get good and familiar with all your bits.
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  #4  
January 5th, 2010, 11:41 PM
MrsPil's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Location: Quad Cities
Posts: 1,305
Also I would highly highly recommend to any first time mom that they read Pushing for First-Time Moms - by Gloria Lemay paying particularly close attention to the fourth paragraph and the numbered external dilation signs that follow.

ETA: Aw heck forget just first time moms, I'd highly recommend *any* pregnant mom or expecting father or labor attendant of any kind read that article.
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"I trust birth—not birth attendants—for if you only trust birth that is attended then you really don't trust birth at all. You trust the attendant. And then you start over. Who? Doctor, surgeon, CNM, CPM, SIM? And it goes on and on...." - Carla Hartley
"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -Gandhi
"What good fortune for those in power that people do not think." - Adolph Hitler



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  #5  
January 6th, 2010, 03:37 AM
fka teresarunningmommy
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Michigan
Posts: 47,594
Great info! I am one that usually doesn't want to mess with my cervix during pregnancy. I just feel like I don't want to introduce any germs up there and for me being dilated or effaced really just doesn't mean a lot. I can be dilated, but that doesn't necessarily mean labor is coming any time soon. Usually when *I* go in labor it's very sudden and very fast and I will dilate very fast so checking my cervix just hasn't been a huge value to me.
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  #6  
January 6th, 2010, 09:25 AM
Twinkle's Avatar Platinum Super Mommy
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Location: New York
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Ditto to Teresa. I don't want anyone messing with my cervix during pregnancy, so I normally turn down internals during prenatal care. Dilation and effacement don't matter much to me, I walked around at 70% effaced and 4cm dilated for a month with my first, with my second I was 1cm and only about 50% effaced when I went into labor. my labor with my second was a lot easier than my first... so to me it doesn't mean much.
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  #7  
January 6th, 2010, 02:30 PM
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Thank you Mrs. Phil! that's awesome!
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