Is There Anything to Gain from the Pain of the Cervix Check?

As I inch, or should I say centimeter (I slay me), my way to this due date, there’s another milestone that must be discussed.

The cervix check. Whoomp, there it is!

This is the point when pregnancy stops being polite and starts being real.

Call me dramatic, it’s my trademark, but the cervix check is worse than childbirth. I don’t know what they taught in med school back in the day, but it must have been something along the lines of, “if your patient doesn’t cry when you check their cervix then you’re doing it wrong.”

I don’t want to call my doctor out too much. Her bedside manner is impeccable and she’s listened to and assured an awful lot of hormonal tears from me, but dang gina, dem hands is rough.

My first pregnancy, I wasn’t prepared for the ol’ cervix check. I mean I’d had a pap smear and while not my best friend, no tears were shed. The cervix check though, ov vey. It was definitely a “like a virgin moment” and I don’t mean that in the way Madonna tries to spin it. There was nothing enjoyable about it.

The cervix check is not my favorite activity…but it is my least favorite activity.

I pity the fool who like me, so unassumingly, gets the most painful feel up of their life.

We’re not strangers my doctor and me. She brought my pride and joy, my darling first daughter into this world. Please ma’am, understand we’re close now. Next time, warn me if you’re going to do anything that will make me loathe you for an entire week.

Now that we’re all aware of how much I truly, madly, deeply hate the cervix check, let’s talk the dilemma.

The slightly wussy lady in me who despises pain, wants to opt out of all cervix checks until labor is literally taking my breath away.

However, the curious, glutton for punishment part of me wants to know, is there any reason to suspect, hope, dream that this baby might be coming early? Have the floodgates opened?

The problem is the dilation status messes with the ol’ head. It adds another level of crazy to the waiting game. Just because one dilates does not mean one immediately labors. It can take weeks.

I hear tales of women who walk around dilated to a 5 for weeks. WEEKS! I hear of women who go from 0 to 60 in 5.2 (figuratively speaking of course).

Theoretically, the cervix check means nothing. Like babies, cervixes do what they want, when they want. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’m curious, oh so curious if anything is happening. It might not make a bit of difference in predicting her arrival to know the dilation digits, but maybe, just maybe it might?

I can’t get you outta my head cervix check.

Is the pain worth it to find out if my business is doing any meaningful business?

Image: Gloved hands via Dan Kosmayer/

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  1. by Ashley F

    On January 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    The cervix check may not be as painful as it was the first time. For a few years after I had my first baby I couldn’t even feel my paps. Although I didn’t find any of my checks actually be painful.
    As far as indications of labor, you’re right… My first was 3cm and 100% at 34 wks at my first check. Who knows how long I had been there or how long I would have stayed there, I was induced at 37.
    Now what I definitely don’t suggest if you don’t like those checks is having your membranes stripped! Didn’t work for me either time and it’s painful!

  2. by Elizabeth

    On January 17, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I was one of those walking around at 4cm for a week or so before my lo decided to enter the world at nearly 41 weeks. I never minded the checks, just chalked it up to a fact of life. Though it got old real fast to be dilating and told “any day now” for a month. :(
    Now, the “stirring things up in there” – yes my oh so stoic doctor referred to membrane stripping as that, was not as pleasant. And I very much could have done without that.

  3. by Kim

    On January 17, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Reason 11 billion I love my CNM. She does one check at I think 30 weeks, ( same appt as the glucose test and everything else under the sun), to check for signs to worry about, then leaves me alone until something happens, or a week before I`m due. My first midwife did the damn checks every appt from 30 on without consulting me or telling me why. That woman had a God complex my father almost beat out of her at delivery.

  4. by Bekka Besich

    On January 17, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Oh I have been warned about the pain of the stripping. I hear it hurts like the dickens. If I’m a wuss about the cervix, there’s no way I’m doing the stripping.

  5. by Jana

    On January 19, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Finally, I find someone who loathes that check as much as me. Most people are like, I don’t love it, but it’s not that bad. I scrummed my way through it, each one, gripping the table, breathing really fast or not breathing at all. Little Talia remembers me yelling during my check with in utero Abbey. After that I quit taking the little ones to those checks.

    “But it’s all worth it!” Just kidding, it’s not.

  6. by Sarah

    On January 28, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I hate the cervix checks – at least until I found my current midwifery office! They are wonderful – and only do them by request or if you think you’re in labor. With my last child the midwife stripped my membranes and honestly it didn’t hurt at all for me. I couldn’t believe when it was over and I was already dilated more than when she started. What always hurt was when the OB broke my water with the first 2 kids and of course his weekly cervix checks for the last month!

  7. by Martha

    On January 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    One reason I adore my current OB. The one I had with my first did Cervix checks from 30 till the end. My new one only does them if there are complications (like you’re in labor and delivery for some reason) and then the only “scheduled” one is at 39 weeks which I get to miss because I’m having my c-section that day. (wanted a VBAC but I’m the worse candidate for it)

  8. by amber

    On January 28, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Funny to hear you hate them so much, I had preterm labor with my first and starting dilating at about 6 months – at that point I was already dilated about 1-2cm. So from that point on I was checked a lot, at every regular checkup and every time I ended up in the hospital with contractions that wouldn’t stop (several times..pretty much every time I had something fun planned :) Anyway, I remember being surprised to hear that this was not standard and others had been so lucky as to only have it checked the week before, but I don’t remember it as painful, only annoying an awkward.