I read a great blog post today by a Certified Nurse Midwife about the usefulness (or actually, the possible emotional harm!) of vaginal exams prior to the beginning of labor. I think this is a great read and good information to take to heart, and have at times said exactly the same words to both clients and class participants. I already posted this over at the ICAN Seattle blog, ( I am the co-leader of the Seattle Chapter) but felt it was so good, I needed to get it up on my own blog too!
The question I always ask is this…. ‘Will the information gained from THIS vaginal exam change what we are going to do today?’ In your present situation, unless you are considering being induced a vaginal exam is irrelevant. What do I mean irrelevant…it does not change what we are going to do TODAY and things can literally change overnight. Because of this, I encourage you to avoid all vaginal exams until you think you are in labor and are having a labor check or you are preparing for an induction. I encourage you to let go of your current cervical change expectations and focus on getting your mind ready for labor and motherhood. You can go from closed to delivered overnight. It will happen. Don’t start to doubt and don’t start to worry. Your body and your baby know the perfect time to move to birth.
Recently I had a student in a class come to me during a break and ask me if spotting, crampiness and some contractions were normal at 33 weeks. I told her that those symptoms might be a reason to check in with her Health Care Provider, as they might want to rule out pre-term labor. She went on to tell me that she had had an appointment the day before, where a vaginal exam was done, that was fairly painful.
Ever since then, she had been feeling some contractions and cramps. When asked why the exam was done, she could not tell me, other than her HCP suggested it. I honestly did not know what to say, and wondered to myself if this woman was going to be birthing a 33 weeker because some things got stirred up when they should have left things alone. I did encourage her to check in with the provider, and am pleased to report that after another day, things settled down and she has not yet gone into labor!
Skip over to read this entire blog post by It’s Your Birth Right; Skip This Routine and think about keeping YOUR pants on if you are not in labor!