Vaginal examinations

Did you know that vaginal examinations during labour, where a care provider inserts two fingers in to the vagina, is a common place feature in western practices around childbirth?

Here in the UK, it is routine to be offered one of these internal assessments upon arrival at a hospital or birth centre, or when a midwife arrives at your home. Thereafter, you are offered a repeat every few hours (sometimes more frequently) depending on the stage of labour.

Important points to know about vaginal assessments in birth before you accept them:
🌹They can be painful

🌹 They most frequently need to be conducted whilst lying or reclined, which can be intensely uncomfortable in labour.

🌹They are invasive.

🌹They can (and likely will) disturb the hormonal flow of labour, which can disrupt your entire birthing process, making labour potentially harder & longer.

🌹There is no scientific evidence to say the routine use of vaginal examinations is a reliable way to determine labour progress, or that it makes birth safer in general.

🌹They cannot ever tell you when a baby will be born.

🌹They can hugely impact your mindset, especially if the current dilatation, which means very little, is not at the point you were hoping for.

🌹There is research to say they increase the risk of infection (especially if you experience 5 or more during your birth).

Of course, you may choose to have a vaginal assessment because it feels right in the moment, because you’re considering extra support measures, or for a true clinical concern with yourself or baby…and that’s great!

You should never feel pressured to accept an assessment, for whatever reason that might be. Feeling pressured is a form of coercion, and coerced people cannot give legal consent.

Want to know more about navigating care features like this during your birth, and about the multitude of alternative signs your labour is progressing beautifully on time for you? DM to enquire; we’d love to welcome you ☺️💛

What were your experiences & feelings around internal assessments during birth? We’d love to know

Sam & Kelly 🌙🪷

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