Cervical Exams: Who Needs ‘Em?

Well, I was going to do a whole post on cervical exams, but then I ran across this little gem

I just got done writing a whole post entitled "What You Don't Know About Your Cervix Can Ruin Your Birth" and was going to follow it up with my opinion on cervical exams, but midwife Vita Mutari puts it so well, why re-invent the wheel?

So checking your cervix does not tell us: when you will go into labor, how fast your labor will be, or how easy or challenging your labor will be.

Ah, but checking your cervix prenatally DOES do SOMETHING!! It ruins the end of your pregnancy.

If you are not dilated yet, then that means you will begin doubting your body, feeling broken, doubting that this baby will “ever be born”. Please be reassured, the longest human pregnancy ever recorded was not “forever”. These moms who find out that they aren’t dilated leave my office discouraged, often looking beaten down and sad. What a terrible thing to feel when you are right on the cusp of having your baby! (Sometimes you’re only hours away from labor!) Your body has known how to conceive this baby, it has (without our assistance) been able to grow from a teeny tiny egg mixed with an even teenier sperm into an entire person!! A full grown baby with toes and hair and the cutest butt cheeks you’ll ever see!! It’s done this miraculous thing…and now, based on a stupid cervical check, you will lose a huge amount of faith in its ability to finish the job it started so perfectly? SHAME ON YOU! Your body is amazing, incredible, creating life! It deserves our utmost adoration…now is not the time to start doubting it! What has it done to deserve your skepticism of its perfection? Nothing…absolutely nothing!

If she is dilating…then celebration and feelings of accomplishment and she will then often run home and tell everyone that the baby is going to come at any moment! She quickly puts all of her affairs in order making sure everything is ready for the baby…and then she waits….
And she waits…
And I see her at the office a week later…and she’s smiling….sort of.

The rest of the piece is full of words of wisdom as great as this.  Really, ladies, routine vaginal exams are a relic of an old birthing model, that says that no one, not even you, should trust your body to birth.  That's not to say that occasionally they don't have their place when truly indicated, but as Vita points out, those times are few and far between.

So, the next time your caregiver insists on a vaginal exam "just because", don't hesitate to say no thank you.  I promise, nothing bad is going to happen.

To learn more about birth interventions, please visit Birthologie.com


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