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Natural Birth & Parenting Natural Birth & Parenting

36 week check-up. Should I decline the vaginal exam?

Posted by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 3:18 AM
  • 50 Replies

I had a hospital transfer and c-section at 39 weeks with my first pregnancy due to pre-eclampsia, and we were in the hospital over a week getting my blood pressure and DS's jaundice under control.

I have the same wonderful midwife this time around, and we're both on board for a VBAC at her birth center.  (Fingers crossed that pre-e doesn't rear its head this time around!).

So, she said she typically likes to do a vaginal exam at 36 weeks, but she won't if I don't want one.

I'm not so sure that declining would benefit me, as I'm hoping to arm myself with as much information as possible to help ensure this delivery goes as we'd planned our last one.  If my cervix doesn't show signs of ripening, she has some alternative measures she can take (herbs, I think), but if we don't do the exam, we simply won't know...

Yet I don't want a vag exam to halt whatever progress I might be having, as I'm already a bit head-shy about delivery, considering my first birth experience...

Any thoughts, ladies?

 

 

by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 3:18 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Duquesne
by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 3:23 AM
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Skip it. The only thing it tells you is what you're at then. Not what you would be at an hour later. They'll give you false hope or despair if you're not as far along as you hope. But I'm odd. I skip them all. I just figure things will move when they're ready. I'd be especially hesitant at 36 weeks. Good luck to you!
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doulala
by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 3:31 AM
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A vaginal exam will mean unnecessary risks/less chance of vbac success.
Don't do it if health & safety are your priority.

;-)

GL!

TTC2Long
by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 3:36 AM
I agree. I had to have a few vaginal exams because of ptl and we had to see if the bedrest was working to halt it. Once it did and my cervix stabilized, I declined all exams. I went from 75% effaced since 31 weeks, 0 dilation to baby in arms in 8 hours. A ve will tell you nothing, has no bearing on predicting pre-e and may cause cramping and spotting, which can be scary and definitely uncomfortable. I'm going to decline all checks myself as long as I don't go into ptl again.

Quoting Duquesne:

Skip it. The only thing it tells you is what you're at then. Not what you would be at an hour later. They'll give you false hope or despair if you're not as far along as you hope. But I'm odd. I skip them all. I just figure things will move when they're ready. I'd be especially hesitant at 36 weeks. Good luck to you!
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littlelambe2
by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 4:02 AM
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I have declined them for both of my pregnancies. My main reason: the ripeness or dilation of the cervix at the stage is not indicative of when labor will begin. On one side, it can get your hopes up if there is some softened or dilation. Or, it could be disappointing if there is no softness or dilation. What is the point of knowing the state of the cervix at 36 weeks unless you're at risk for preterm labor? As far as checking baby's position, a good doctor or midwife should be able to tell by feeling the baby externally. My first cervical check for each pregnancy was the check upon admission to the hospital (41w2d for dd1, 41w3d for dd2) once in active labor. 

I firmly believe that it's best to have a more hand off approach. It's best for baby, and easiest on mom, to wait for labor to begin spontaneously. Why push the herbs? If you're worried about your blood pressure this time around, make sure you're eating a high protein diet. 


joyful_mama
by Bronze Member on Nov. 18, 2012 at 6:36 AM

This. There is no benefit to having a vaginal exam, it tells you nothing.

Quoting Duquesne:

Skip it. The only thing it tells you is what you're at then. Not what you would be at an hour later. They'll give you false hope or despair if you're not as far along as you hope. But I'm odd. I skip them all. I just figure things will move when they're ready. I'd be especially hesitant at 36 weeks. Good luck to you!


lactatingloon
by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 10:05 AM
My doctor doesn't even offer a bags exam until 39 weeks I'd skip it.
Mrs.Salz
by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Definitely skip it! Your body is doing exactly what it needs to at this point in time and your cervix is ripening in its own pace.

Dilation and effacement tell you nothing - you can be tightly closed and go into labor an hour later, or be 5 cm for weeks. It's best not to know because it's so easy to have false hope or disappointment depending on the results.

There are also risks of introducing bacteria or having your waters accidentally broken.

Mrs.Salz
by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 2:09 PM
1 mom liked this
JoJoBean8
by Group Mod on Nov. 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM

I would all it does it get your hopes up or lets you down. No good really comes of it.

tansyflower
by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 3:16 PM

personally i wouldnt do it if i were in your situation.  i also wouldnt let them TOUCH me before 42 weeks! with my first i made the mistake of doing cervical checks and it totally blew my confidence.  with my second i was smart enough to refuse cervical checks except for right before i started pushing so i knew i was ready and even then i started pushing at 9 because thats what i felt i needed to do, my midwife just made sure i was on my knees squatting and that i pushed very gently for the first few minutes.

honestly i am glad i didnt mess around with them the last time.  one of my biggest regrets during my first labor was feeling like it wasnt going "fast enough" because i wasnt dilated as much as i THOUGHT i "should" be.  totally messed with my head!


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