thoughts on getting "checked" in the last few weeks of pregnancy?

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waitingimpatiently614's picture
Joined: 02/17/09
Posts: 386
thoughts on getting "checked" in the last few weeks of pregnancy?

so, i had my 36 week MW appt today and was pretty curious to find out if my cervix was dilated or effaced at all since i've had spotting, lost some mucus plug, and had lots of contractions off and on. i figured she'd do a cervical check since i was having my GBS swab today. turns out, they had me swab myself in the bathroom and they don't do cervical checks routinely at any prenatal visits! she said it's not a good indicator of anything really, so there's not a good clinical reason to be sticking fingers up there just for curiosity's sake. which makes perfect sense, but it's just so different from what i'm used to after my first pregnancy with an OB who was more than happy to put me in the stirrups several times during my pregnancy! Smile i guess my MW might check me if i really wanted her to and asked her to at a future visit, but i can't think of a good reason to request that. what do you ladies think?

momW's picture
Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 5634

Cervical Checks: Who Needs Them?

I really like this article Smile

TyrantOfTheWeek's picture
Joined: 12/26/05
Posts: 1147

I have a "no fisting by the doctor" policy. I learned it can get you all excited for no reason (OMG, I'm 2cm!!)I or all bummed for no reason (I'm still only 2cm:( ) it doesn't really prove or disprove pending labor. The only way I'd have one is if I was in preterm labor or something. Or when I'm screaming that I need to push.

Marite13's picture
Joined: 08/07/09
Posts: 3368

Thanks for posting that article, momW. I like it!

I agree with everyone else... no need for those checks. I never had one with DD (until I arrived at the hospital in active hard labor), and don't plan on having any this time either- and I'd be quite happy to skip them altogether this time!

I just know too many stories that support so very well, exactly what that article said... one of my BFFs just gave birth to her 1st on Feb 2. I think she was 39+1 or 39+2. The last email she wrote me- on Feb 1 was, "So this little boy seems to be considerate enough to give his mama extra time to get some more coursework done before his arrival. I really don't mind incubating him as long as is needed (especially with this cold (she's in Europe, where temps were like -35 CELCIUS) - though I realized if he does arrive in this cold it will just mean extra snuggles for him, if that's even possible!) - just as long as he doesn't grow too terribly much bigger! All good at the midwife's today, but the internal check showed that there is no dilation, etc., so he's certainly not in any hurry. That has made me just relax a bit and getting ready to snuggle in during this cold and really pick up the pace with my studies while I can, because everything else is pretty well set!"

The good thing for her, was that she was only 39 weeks, and didn't get upset about not having any progress... but I bet all that relaxing-cause-she-had-so-much-time actually probably made things happen, you know!?

emansmom's picture
Joined: 03/24/09
Posts: 752

I am with the others I don't think cervical checks prior to labor are worth anything. They mean nothing and only get moms excited or dissapointed. I had one check last time when I arrived at the birth center in hard labor and that was it. When my body started pushing I let it, no one had to tell me I was 10 and could push.

TiggersMommy's picture
Joined: 02/14/10
Posts: 6043

I didn't have any checks prior to going in to labor. I don't see the point of them if all is going well and you're not planning to induce. I was checked during labor because I was on the damn clock after my water broke and the MW needed to know if I was making progress so I could avoid a transfer. It was NOT fun. I won't be volunteering for a check with my next one. No way.

kridda_88's picture
Joined: 01/28/08
Posts: 1798

I get checks but mainly to see if my body is actually doing something, though I know it means nothing and honestly I don't even get excited about what I am at any more other than knowing my body is starting to prepare, for some reason I have this strange I NEED to know if my body is doing something fetish. I know it doesn't mean impending labor though. Learned that lesson with my first. The sign I look for for impending labor is bloody show. That is how I know labor is close for me. I was checked more with Lukus then I wanted to be starting the pregnancy BUT I was in early labor for 4 days. I was slowly dilating, about a cm a day, and the only reason my midwifes kept checking was because I was starting to get tired and warn out from the contractions, I would have strong contractions for 7-8 hours straight at night, and I couldn't sleep or relax through them, that would stall, and they were waiting for me to get to a certain point so they could break my water and finish getting labor going. Lukus ended up being posterior so I would start labor and then it would stall when he would turn. After they broke my water they didn't touch me again until I was pushing with out much success and they needed to get a lip out of the way. I think it's all a personal choice. If your don't want to then don't. If you are like me and have this annoying curiosity that must be filled then I don't see anything wrong with it, yes there are risks with having it done but that's when you follow your heart with the decision.

boilermaker's picture
Joined: 08/21/02
Posts: 1984

Eh-- I've skipped them with the last two babies and will skip them this time, too.

With my 3rd baby, I had exactly one check my entire pregnancy and birth.....and with my last baby, I didn't have any checks.

With my first and second I was closed tight on my EDD-- and went into spontaneous labor just days after. I really don't like anyone's hands up in there....

Also my niece just had a baby today. I was SO annoyed with her doc bc did routine checks. At 36 weeks she was 2 cm and doc said "any day now....." Guess what-- she just had him this morning at 39+6, her water broke last night and when she was admitted to the hospital-- she was *gasp* 2 cms. That check and his comment made her so anxious these last few weeks....no matter what I or anyone else advised her (bc doctor said!) *sigh*

To me, it just seems like an opportunity for infection.

waitingimpatiently614's picture
Joined: 02/17/09
Posts: 386

thanks so much for the link to that article! it really helped me understand why my midwife does things the way she does, and i'm thankful for it. it's strange how i buy in to whatever the "norm" is, but so much of the typical model of care is not based on anything medically-necessary or helpful. again, i am so thankful to be under a different model of care this time...it's just requiring me to adjust my mindset a little. at this point in pregnancy, every female friend and relative is asking me how dilated and effaced i am! i am now happy to tell them i have no idea and it's irrelevant. Smile and i have a new desire to avoid cervical checks during labor, too. i know all those checks were not helpful for my mental state last time, but i just went along with them anyway because i thought it was "required." my body will do what it's supposed to do in it's own time....that's my new mantra.

jolly11sd's picture
Joined: 02/02/05
Posts: 3327

Good article Christa!

I did get checks with my first cause I didn't know you could say no. With my 2nd the MW never did any checks and I loved that! I never wanted to know what was going on, even in labor, even though I eventually asked her to do 2 checks while we were home. This time I plan on just saying no because really there is no need and I'm a lot more trusting of my own body.

MrsMangoBabe's picture
Joined: 04/09/07
Posts: 2276

I also did not have any checks with my most recent birth. I just waited to push until I absolutely couldn't help it. Worked really well for me!

momW's picture
Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 5634

I'm pretty sure that Mindie (tyrantoftheweek) originally posted that article but I loved it so much that I bookmarked it and refer to it often!

And YES Audra, I hear that same story so much from friends that it makes me want to scream!!! "Oh, my dr says it could be any day now! I'm getting so excited!" whistle, whistle, whistle and 2 weeks go by and now that she's 39 weeks +/- she feels overdue because she could've went any day now 2 weeks ago. So, at the first mention of induction she's all for it because now she's overdue at 39 weeks. OH blah, can you tell I've heard this one several times now?!

tink9702's picture
Joined: 09/28/08
Posts: 2977

I have had a total of three checks. One for DS when I arrived at the hospital because they wanted to send me home because they didn't think I was in active labor (I was 8cm dilated), a second time with DS when I just wasn't sure if I should be pushing (didn't trust myself that I knew what I was doing). The third time was when I arrived at the hospital with DD when again they didn't think I was in active labor (I was 6cm dilated). Hypnobabies works pretty well huh?! LOL

My midwives don't believe in checking because it can change so fast and doesn't really tell you anything.

Joined: 07/04/11
Posts: 316

My midwives don't offer it until 40 weeks and even at that point it's really not a true indicator as to when you'll go into labour

knhoward's picture
Joined: 04/22/08
Posts: 999

I was checked every week for the last 4 weeks with my first two children. I think with this 3rd one I will refuse all checks until I know I am actually in labour. It's always disappointing when they tell you your cervix is closed (especially a week overdue). I haven't discussed with my midwife what their standard procedure is, I think it is something I will bring up next appt.

cactuswren's picture
Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 4658

I didn't get checked until 40 weeks. After that, my midwives do get a little more aggressive (if you want them to) because of the hospital overseer's 41 week risk-out policy. They gave me 3 checks and membrane sweeps over that week to help me move along and encourage labor within the window, so I could stay at the center. They hate the policy too, but are stuck with it, and all things considered I decided to go with the natural encouragements like sweeps and herbal tinctures. Had that "deadline" not been hanging over my head, though, I definitely would have refused checks. It was discouraging. Even at my last check and sweep, the morning of the day I went into labor, I was barely dilated--2cm, I think, and 0% effaced.

Danifo's picture
Joined: 09/07/10
Posts: 1377

With my first I refused checking until 41 weeks when they said they would do a membrane sweep. They had trouble reaching, did not to a sweep and said nothing measurable. when I went to the hospital when my water broke I was 3 cm and they wanted me to go home because it would be awhile. 4 hours later I had DD1. I've had friends be 3 cm for a month!

I planned to decline the second time because it didn't seen like useful information. When I was admitted after my water broke at 33 weeks they checked to see if anything was happening (no). A few days later I was in incredible pain with no measurable contraction. They checked and I was 5 cm. 30 minutes later I had DD2.

Dilation status has very little to do with when you go into labour or how long your labour will be. When you are actually in labour I think it can serve a purpose.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

I wouldn't get checked in pregnancy unless there is reason for concern. In labor, you really just need to play it by ear. If everything seems to be moving along nicely, there isn't a need; however, if things seem stalled or the labor has unusual patterns or if baby is showing signs of trouble, then it is a good idea.

I guess in a nutshell, there needs to be a good reason and a plan of action based on your findings. "Why are we doing this? What will the information change?"

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

My OB checks only after 37 weeks, and it doesn't bother me. I actually like to see where I'm at (even though I know it doesn't matter). At my 38 week appt with Trystan I was dilated 6 CM and in lots of pain... like I couldn't even put my pants on without crying, and so because I was that far dilated she sent me over to the hospital, and while I was checking in I actually went into labor lol! So in cases like that, I'm glad that she checked me, otherwise I would have driven all the way home and would have had to turn right back around (my house is clear across town from the hospital)!!