What exactly is a cervix? And why do so many woman feel eager to know what their cervix is doing before labor begins?

Your cervix is the lower part of your uterus, to have a vaginal birth it needs to soften/thin/dilate (open). This process usually starts off slow, and if you’ve been getting weekly checks chances are your cervix isn’t making much change since labor hasn’t really started.

Don’t stress about it.

Until active labor starts your cervix will only be making small changes. This can change in a matter of minutes or hours, some woman go from being completely closed to fully dilated in a couple hours. There’s just no way to know exactly what your cervix will do between early labor and transitioning. What we do know is your body knows exactly what it supposed to do.

Cervical Effacement and Dilatation

Checking your cervix can make or break your spirit in labor.

It’s exciting though isn’t it, knowing what your cervix is doing can help you relax and wait for labor. In some cases it’s not helpful and can actually slow down your laboring process. I tell all clients that knowing what your cervix is doing every hour can stress you out and hold you from progressing. Most birthing centers actually recommend waiting on checking every few hours and focus more on how the woman is laboring.

You don’t need a check for your doula or medical team to see how progressed you are. Yes having cervical checks help and is often needed at some point during your birth, but we often watch and listen to HOW your breathing, moving and making sounds. Those things often tell us how you’re progressing. Read more about the stages of labor here: http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/first-stage-of-labor/

Doulas do not perform cervix checks.

I’ve only been asked a couple of times, and that was years ago. Just in case it wasn’t clear, doulas do not check for cervical dilation. A doula should not perform any medical act on their clients, that’s what doctors, midwives and nurses are for! We are not like midwives, although I can see why people refer to that. I like to give a simple example of how we are different but together provide the best care. Your midwife literally has you and your babies life in their hands, as a doula we have all your emotions. We have the ability to be with you for hours, our time is unlimited, and yes the midwife and nurses want to be there every second of your labor but that’s not always possible.

Do you really have a choice on receiving or denying them?

Your cervix is important, during labor it thins and opens to allow the baby to move through. Not all do this smoothly, some take longer than others. And remember, you have choices. You can say no to being checked or you can ask to be checked, the control is in your hands.