So every pregnant mom knows what a cervical check is, but in case there is anyone out there in the veiwing audience that does not, it is a procedure done during labor by a practitioner (the mom's OB, Midwife or L&D nurse) to check cervical dilation. During the first stage of labor the cervix (the mouth of the uterus that essentially keeps the baby safely inside) dilates, or opens, from 0 cm to 10 cm. Once the cervix is at 10 cm dilation, mom is genrally considered "complete" and is given the ok to push. The cervical check is done periodically in the hospital (typically every 2-4 hrs) and is fairly simply done and can be mildly uncomfortable to even slightly painful to the laboring mom. Anyone in the natural birth field can tell you that cervical checks during labor are unnecessary and really don't tell anyone involved how much time is left until the baby arrives, it just tells us where we've been. In general, practioners practicing within the Midwifery Model of Care (see my previous post Midwife or OB? for more info on this topic) do not perform many cervical checks during labor. They take a more hands off approach and may only check for dilation when asked by the mom. I always have believed that checking cervical dilation can actually be quite defeating to the mom, unless she is at 9 or 10 cm. Time after time, mom has worked hard for a few hours or more, her practitioner checks her dilation only to find that she has made little or no progress. This can be very discouraging for mom. It's hard for a laboring mom to rationalize that normal labor has its plateaus, and that even though she has been at 4 or 5 cm dilation for a few hours that those contractions are still doing work and she is making progress. Contractions also aid in the thinning out, or effacement of the cervix and the rotating the baby into a more optimal position for navigating the birth canal. A laboring mom does not have rational thoughts like that. She will be focusing on the number, especially if her practitioner is. This kind of disappointment can lead to thoughts that she can not do it, that her body is failing her and she will need major spport from her birth team to get back on track and go on. In reality though, she can be at 4 or 5 cm dilation for a few hours and then rapidly dilate 2 or 3 cm within a handful of contractions. This is within the realm of normal labor progression and much more common than many realize. This is an interesting perspective that I found on this subject, and goes much deeper than I do, but harnesses the belief that the mom has a lot more power over her labor than she thinks. An interesting read to say the least. Comments are welcome :) http://www.mamamuse.com/2012/05/how-cervical-dilation-checks-undermine-the-imaginal-power-of-birthing-women/ ~Blissful birthing and babies to you!