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I think it's safe to say that 100% of women would rather not have a vaginal exam. The only benefit is getting some valuable information as to how labor is progressing.
So what if you could assess how dilated you were without having to have an internal exam?
Yeah, my hand is raised too, that's the option I would choose.
A few things to know about vaginal exams that is worth knowing:
Purple bottom line: there is a purple line that is in a women’s bottom crack starting near the anus that grows up towards her back as she dilates.
The xiphoid process: At the beginning of Labor your will be able to fit 5 fingered between the cartilage at the base of your sternum (bra line) and the top of your uterus. As labor and dilation progresses you’ll be able to fit less and less fingers between. Check during the height of a contraction 3 fingers is about 5cm dilated and only 1 finger is fully dilated.
Sound: How a women talks and interacts will change throughout the stages of labor. The later stages there is often an involuntary moans or deep guttural sounds.
Smell: there is a smell to birth that hits right towards the end of dilation. It’s an ancient smell. One article I read described the smell as mowed hay, semen, and dampness. It’s very subtle but if you are aware of it you’ll notice it.
Irrationality: often a sign of transition which is near when the cervix is completely dilated. The mama will make comments that are fairly irrational like wanting to leave or escape. She may express that she didn’t want a baby anyway. I had one mama question if there really was a baby in there. Irrationality is a great sign things are getting close so help mama have confidence that she is doing a great job.
The gooey stuff: you might be familiar with the term “bloody show” usually you notice excessive mucus with streaks of red after you go to the bathroom. Typically there is a show are 2-3cm dilation which can even be a couple days before labor. But then there is another show around 8cm. Which is a great sign that birth is near.
I want to talk for a quick second about transition. You hear about it all the time, but what is it and why does it happen?
Transition usually happens around the 7-8cm dilation mark. It's a dip hormones.
All the oxytocin, adrenaline, and every other hormone that had been sustaining you up until this point dips down and women often feel: the need to escape, or be done. Or sometimes they vomit, or have a change in temperature. And sometimes "transition" doesn't affect the mama at all.
But the important thing to know is right after this dip in hormones the body provides a big boost of adrenaline. It's with this adrenaline that helps mom to push her baby out and gets her to the finish line.
Our bodies are pretty dang cool!
Here is the video where we go into further detail about each of these 6 ways:
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Education is KEY to setting yourself up for your best possible birth. Knowing your options and how to advocate for yourself makes a huge difference.
With the main reason people develop hemorrhoids is from pressure in the bottom, it seems unlikely many women will experience pregnancy and birth unscathed.