Checking Your Own Cervix

How to Check Your Own Cervix- “it’s not rocket science”

“I think it’s a good and empowering thing for a woman to check her own cervix for dilation. This is not rocket science, and you hardly need a medical degree or years of training to do it. Your vagina is a lot like your nose- other people may do harm if they put fingers or instruments up there but you have a greater sensitivity and will not do yourself any harm. Clean your hands well and make sure your fingernails are trimmed and rounded.

“The best way to do it when hugely pregnant is to sit on the toilet with one foot on the floor and one up on the seat of the toilet (or if that yoga is too difficult, put one foot up on the bathtub or a stool with your knee bent).

toilet Put two fingers in and go back towards your bum. The cervix in a pregnant woman feels like your lips puckered up into a kiss. On a non-pregnant woman it feels like the end of your nose. When it is dilating, one finger slips into the middle of the cervix easily (just like you could slide your finger into your mouth easily if you are puckered up for a kiss). As the dilation progresses the inside of that hole becomes more like a taught elastic band and by 5 cms dilated (5 fingerwidths) it is a perfect rubbery circle like one of those Mason jar rings that you use for canning, and about that thick.

“What’s in the centre of that opening space is the membranes (bag of waters) that are covering the baby’s head and feel like a latex balloon filled with water. If you push on them a bit you’ll feel the baby’s head like a hard ball (as in baseball). If the waters have released you’ll feel the babe’s head directly.

“It is time for women to take back ownership of their bodies.”
-Gloria Lemay, Vancouver, BC


One birthing woman who checked her own cervix described it like this: “I could feel my bag of water bulging down and then later the baby’s head once the waters broke- so cool.”
“How did I do it? I just reached up in all the way to the back and felt. It’s sort of awkward/difficult to reach but if you are familiar with what your cervix normally feels like, sort of like the tip of your nose, it gets shorter and stretchy. I felt it at like maybe 2 cm, about 6, which is when I could feel the bag, and then when it was time for baby to come. When the contractions were getting super intense I pushed a bit and that was enough to break my waters. Babe came shortly after.”
(shared with permission) 2014

17 thoughts on “Checking Your Own Cervix

  1. I can vouch for this. I did my own VEs in labour with two of my babies. It was easy, and helped me keep in touch with what was happening. In one labour I asked my midwife to check my dilation. She replied there was no indication for it, and if I wanted to know, I could do it myself. Simple. I even felt an anterior lip and chose to delay pushing for a while in second stage…

  2. Yes I did my own examinations for two of my births. I was the one that reassured everyone that all was well and I just had a little lip that we had to wait for. It is good to be in touch with your own body .

  3. Yep. That’s how you do it. Position is everything. Great for helping your midwife or helpers avoid speeding tickets. Just plain empowering – and calming when you can feel your baby’s head.

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  5. Some of you are talking about there being a lip and waiting for it to go away. With my last baby there was a lip because his hand was on his face while being born. The midwife told me since there is a lip that she would have to push my cervix over his head, and that is what she did. So painful. Anyhow, had I waited to push, would anything have changed? She did have me start pushing before I felt the urge to push, so I’m just wondering had I waited if the delivery process would have been better.
    Thanks for any feedback.

      • I’ve had 5 natural births and I’ve always enjoyed checking myself during labor rather than with someone else. With three of them, I still had a little lip even when I couldn’t keep from pushing any longer. 1 push for head, one for body. This was baby 1, 3, and 4. Baby two was my biggest, but I dialated fully and he slipped out like butter. Baby 5, Hubby and I had unassisted at home, right after we got home from our anniversary dinner. We sat in a hot bath and he massaged my cervix and kept me nice and open. I dialated so fast and I didn’t feel for myself because I trust his judgement, as he is in there all the, but he said I was well beyond 10 and in less than 2 hours, start to finish, baby came out butt and feet first. Hubby actually saw one foot emerge then pull back inside but kept it to himself, not to startle me…lol bless his heart.

  6. I read about this during my doula training-many books had references to cervical checks. It was my first full term baby and i wasnt sure if labour was imminent or if the cramps were just warning that i had done too much the day before. I had checked my cervix in the weeks ahead just because i had a lot of preterm deliveries and i wanted a baseline. But after a quick check i could easily tell i was already approx 4 cms and 75% effaced. The baby’s head felt like a small bowling ball pushed against the cervix. It was intense to experience that confirmation!

  7. Pingback: Como explorar tu cérvix, de Gloria Lemay. | Ibone Olza

  8. As a fertility awareness instructor in training, I came across this and thought it was about checking your cervical position in relation to ovulation, LOL. But I do say, from experience, that self-checking of your cervix is not only possible, but better. If a woman can use her cervical position to chart her cycle, she should be more than able to check dilation during labor (if she is comfortable with it, of course).

  9. I know this article was published a while ago but I’m hoping maybe someone will have some input. I’ve always been a huge believer in cervical checks, and not just during pregnancy. I believe every woman should know what’s normal for them and the best way to do this is to become familiar with your own body. That being said..

    I am currently 35 (36 tomorrow) weeks pregnant with my 6th child. After having some intense Braxton hicks contractions night before last, I decided to do a cervical check this morning. I was previously about 2cm (at 33 weeks) and had almost no effacement. When I checked this morning I was closer to 3 cm with about 50% effacement. I’m not overly concerned with the progress. Our goal is 37 weeks (I get weekly Makena injections as 2 of my 5 were late preterm and 34 and 36 weeks) and I am very close to that goal.

    My concern is, where I usually feel my water bulging slightly, as well as the baby’s head, this time what I felt was what felt like a slightly deflated water balloon (like a loose feeling rather than a tight one if that makes any sense) as well as baby’s head. The amniotic sac is definitely still there, it just doesn’t feel as it normally does. Now I’m worried about the possibility of a minor leak that I just haven’t noticed (I am currently recovering from bronchitis so I’ve kind of gotten used to small gushes of urine whenever I cough too hard lol).

    Do you feel it’s possible I have a leak or is it more likely the baby’s position that caused the amniotic sac to feel this way? I’m not quite at the point where I’m ready to contact my midwife, mostly because her response to any concern is “go to the hospital and get checked”.

    I’d really appreciate any input you can offer. Thank you!

  10. I really need some advice on this. I’ve been checking my cervix for ages and always been able to get one finger in. Well since yesterday I can get two in. But my cervix is still long.. But there’s like a bulge where I can fit it in?? But when checked by midwife she said it’s still long and closed but I can fit two fingers in??

  11. One of my friends phoned the hospital to say she was in labour, her husband had checked her cervix and she was pretty dilated. The midwife told her off, and said he shouldn’t have done that as he wasn’t qualified!
    I can think of someone more qualified to check a woman’s cervix (other than the woman herself) than her intimate partner.

  12. My only input would be…why check at all? It isn’t necessary, and in fact can often slow labor.

    IF however a woman wants to or has a caregiver who is insistent on performing this archaic unnecessary intervention…then by all means she should do it herself rather than allowing someone else do so.

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