Vaginal examinations – and how to avoid them

Most medical providers are expecting for a vaginal examination to be done as mum arrives at the hospital or even shortly after the midwives would arrive at the home.

Vaginal examinations only tell, what ever is going on at that precise moment, however things can change either way often quite quickly. It can be very uncomfortable , as generally health providers are expecting mum to be lying on her back for a VE to be performed, however while lying on the back, the contractions are generally becoming more painful, as the natural way for the pelvis to lie for baby to decent has been interrupted. Very often just the worry of having a VE can prevent dilation, as it can bring up either past trauma from an event or induce deeper trauma.

There are several ways on avoiding or refusing a VE :

1 – Simple by putting in the birth plan , that an informed decision has been made, that no VE will be performed unless medically required due to an emergency situation [ these are rarer than thought].

2 – Letting the midwives know via the birth plan, that no VE’s to be performed while lying on the back, as other positions eg kneeling on all 4’s maybe another option.

3 – Asking for the midwives and other birth providers to only observe , eg purple line, which can distinctive with some running from the crease of the bum to the anus and going upwards to the top dimple of the bum crack.

4 – Thee is also the so called Mexican hot leg method, which means skilled midwives be able to check, if the leg is warm but only the feet and ankles are cold, a woman’s cervix is generally about 3cm dilated, if she is cold up to a little higher up the leg to mid-calf area, around 5cm, and if the entire leg up to her knees is cold she will be fully dilated and ready to push very soon. The reason for this is that blood flow gradually decreases to the extremities as labour progresses because it is needed higher up in the body.

5 – Simply by watching the birthing woman closely on her breathing and behaviour and how she is moving can give many glues on how far she is likely dilated.

Everyone has the right to refuse VE’s, if that is what they would like to do – often however even the birthing woman becomes curious and wishes to know to be able to make an informed decision on what is best for her at that moment.

There are also the options of self examining or asking for her partner to examining her, which may feel more comfortable for her than a stranger doing it. Doing it herself, can mean her becoming more in tune with her body, however not everyone feels comfortable doing this through various reasons.