Did you recently find out that you have a short cervix? If so, you’re probably wondering what that means for you. When a woman has a shorter cervix (cervical insufficiency), it can dilate a lot easier, putting babies at risk when the mother is pregnant. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a healthy and safe pregnancy. It’s important to know what to do and how to keep yourself and your unborn baby as protected as possible throughout the pregnancy. If you take proper measures throughout the trimesters, you can have a safe and healthy labor.
Related: My Experience Being 35 and Pregnant
Understanding the Short Cervix
Some women have a short cervix because of genetics, while others have it due to trauma or other abnormalities. It’s impossible to predict which women will receive the diagnosis of a short cervix. Most women don’t realize they have a short cervix until after they’re already pregnant. Hearing such news could cause them to feel anxious and worried about what will happen throughout the pregnancy.
Greater Risk of Premature Labor
When a woman has a short cervix, it does put her at risk of going into labor early, which also puts the baby at risk of being born prematurely. For example, when I was 16 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with a short cervix during a routine visit to my maternal-fetal specialist. I quickly found out that my cervix was less than two centimeters in length. Of course, I didn’t know what that meant for me at the time. Still, the maternal-fetal specialist provided recommendations to ensure that I could have a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy without so much stress involved.
Listen to Your Specialist
Learning that you have a short cervix while you’re pregnant is frustrating. You want everything to go right. But then you have this new concern that starts stressing you out and worrying about what will happen to you and your unborn baby. Upon receiving this diagnosis, the best thing for anyone to do is to listen to what the specialist says about adequately handling the situation.
Recommendations for a Safe Pregnancy
The maternal-fetal specialist recommended modified bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy to prevent putting too much pressure on the cervix. In addition to modified bed rest, I needed to rest my pelvis until reaching the 36-week mark, use progesterone suppositories until 34 weeks pregnant, and undergo weekly checks consisting of transvaginal sonograms to check my cervix length. It may sound like a lot of work, but those weekly checks gave me peace of mind. I’d feel a sense of relief with each week that passed, knowing that we were getting closer and closer to the due date.
Avoid Putting Stress on the Body and Cervix
While it’s important to talk with your specialist about the steps you should take to protect yourself, these recommendations are relatively standard. The reason for these recommendations is to avoid stress on the body and the cervix in general. If there is too much stress on a short cervix, dilation can occur, which would cause you to go into labor before your due date. It’s one thing if you’re going into labor a few weeks beforehand, but it’s another when you’re only a few months pregnant. The chances of the baby surviving at such an early time are much lower.
For the safety of your unborn baby, be sure to listen to any recommendations given to you by the specialist. The specialist wants to help you get as close to your due date as possible to ensure that your baby is healthy when born.
Are There Any Other Treatments?
While I did not have to have a procedure to treat my cervical insufficiency, there are instances where it is necessary. In those cases, specialists will recommend a cervical cerclage. The cervical cerclage involves stitching the cervix area to keep it closed. It typically occurs during the second trimester. While it may not sound ideal to everyone, it’s a procedure to protect the baby while preventing preterm labor. If you want to lower the chances of going into labor too soon, this is an option to discuss with your obstetrician.
Possible Symptoms Following the Procedure
It’s important to know what to expect after this procedure. Some women experience spotting and cramps, while others may find it painful to urinate. While these symptoms are common and will often occur when women undergo this procedure because of a short cervix, you should talk with your physician about any pain and discomfort that becomes difficult for you to handle. You wouldn’t want to continue to experience excruciating pain without seeking medical attention. However, the chances of experiencing severe pain from this procedure are low.
Some women have short cervixes. If you’ve found out you have a short cervix, you may need to take additional safety measures to protect your little one and prevent preterm labor.