Wonderful article featured on Mama Birth, originally from Victory Birth…
In 2002-2003, I had an IUD. I learned to check my cervix to make sure it was still in place. (There is a small string that is supposed to hang out of your cervix).
When I labored with my third baby in 2005 and my fourth baby in 2010, I found it really helpful to be able to feel my cervix to see if it was changing. I know it would have helped me very much for my 5 day labor in 1999, when I went to the hospital and was sent back home even though I was having a really great contraction pattern, I was not dilating yet.
Several moms have asked how to check your own cervix in labor.
First of all, you need to know where your cervix is located and what it is supposed to look/feel like normally. It’s easiest to familiarize yourself with it BEFORE you are 9-10 months pregnant and in labor.
Here is a site with a photo gallery of an unpregnant cervix throughout the monthly cycle. There are also lots of other photos of the cervix, pregnant and postpartum.
Photos (like the one above) like to show the cervix right at the top of your vagina…and that’s usually NOT exactly where it is or what it feels like. It usually tips towards your back and is sometimes very difficult to reach. (like the photo below)
Your healthy cervix should feel very smooth and there should be a small hole right in the center. It should firm like the tip of your nose and when it’s dilating and effacing during labor, it should feel soft, like your lips.
It is easiest for me to reach in the shower, in a wide squat. With your first two fingers, you push your pointer finger against the wall of your vagina…reaching as far back as possible with your middle finger. Your cervix feels smooth whereas your vagina has ridges. Find the center to verify you are in the right spot.
You can see what happens to your cervix in the photo below…how it thins and begins to open. It gets very soft and stretchy and doesn’t really feel like the same thing it started out as. At first, it might be closed tight with your mucus plug blocking any entry into your uterus…as it changes, you will lose your plug in peices or in a big chunk. It might look like a bloody booger. You might see it, or you might not. Many times it slips into the toilet when you urinate and it gets flushed without notice.
Once your cervix is open to the size of the bottom of a soda can, you should be where you are going to give birth. If you are not already in transition, you are almost there. You may feel your amnitotic sac or the baby’s head pressing against the cervix. (Please don’t put your hands or anything else inside your vagina if your water has broken, it can cause an infection) You may have bloody show and discharge.
If you’ve only ever checked your own cervix, it’s going to be difficult to tell exactly how dilated you are but you can at least gauge if it is opening or not. If it’s closed tight, then the best thing to do is go to bed or take a LONG nap…
Do I recommend that women check their cervix in labor. No. However, if you want to, it CAN be a useful tool. It was for me. ~Happy Birthing!~~~Abbey