Have you been diagnosed with having a short cervix during pregnancy? You’re probably worried and have a gazillion question running through your mind.
I don’t blame you. I’ve been through it myself!
I was diagnosed at around 26 weeks and my cervix was measuring 2.5cm. This was considered “borderline” short. It continued to get shorter as my pregnancy progressed.
I wish I would’ve known how it would affect my pregnancy. I exhausted all Google short cervix searches and I worried myself sick!
My husband and I were both very stressed out and our main concern was carrying our baby to term.
I’m grateful for my dream team: MFM specialist and my amazing midwife who reassured me along the way.
By the grace of God I managed to have the unmedicated birth of my dreams at 39 weeks + 2 days.
May 11th, 2017🙌❤️
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with a short cervix, my heart and prayers are with you. I know firsthand how stressful it can be but I know that there is much power in knowledge.
Note: Just to be clear, a short cervix is not the same as an incompetent cervix. You can check out this resource to learn more about the differences between the two.
What to expect when diagnosed with a short cervix during pregnancy
MFM specialist referral
Upon diagnosis (via ultrasound), your prenatal care will be assigned to a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist. You may also get to keep your primary healthcare provider, like I was able to keep my midwife.
This doctor will work closely with your Obstetrician/Midwife (OB/MW) to provide you and your baby with medical care.
Depending on how early on you are diagnosed with a short cervix, your care may or may not be fully transferred over to a MFM specialist and OB.
Being diagnosed with a short cervix during pregnancy will have to visiting your healthcare provider a lot more frequently.
You will definitely have to attend more appointments than the average pregnant woman with no pregnancy-related complications.
The frequency will be dependent upon how far along you are in your pregnancy, and the rate at which your cervix is shortening.
I was diagnosed at 26 weeks and had appointment about every 1.5 weeks until I reached my 3rd trimester.
At that point I was seeing the MFM specialist less frequently until I stopped altogether at 36 weeks.
Frequent appointments also mean more absences from work. Be open with your employer, and make sure that you educate yourself on the laws and workplace policies pertaining to medical leave/absences.
Get in touch your HR rep and find out what your rights are as an employee, and what obligations you have towards your employer.
Frequent vaginal ultrasounds
If you’ve been diagnosed with a short cervix during pregnancy, you can expect your MFM specialist to give you a vaginal ultrasound at each appointment. This is how they will measure and monitor your cervix.
Ultrasounds are widely considered to be safe and are commonly performed on mamas throughout all stages of pregnancy.
The only downside is that they can get fairly uncomfortable as your pregnancy progresses due to all the pressure down there. On the plus side, you get to see the babes a lot more often!
Vaginal Progesterone shots
Once it is found that you have a short cervix, you will be put on vaginal Progesterone injections in an effort to keep you from going into premature labor (I was on daily Crinone 8%, which is vaginal Progesterone).
According to this study, “Vaginal progesterone was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of preterm birth.”
I believe that the power of prayer and these shots is what kept me from delivering prematurely.
Although these injections are expensive, I would not do without them.
The vaginal progesterone cost me about $500 per box which our health insurance covered. Where I reside in Ontario, these are not covered by OHIP.
If you have health insurance, call your provider to find out if this is covered under your plan.
Yes it’s true.
You may be restricted from having sex. Sperm contains a very high amount of prostaglandin which is a hormone-like substance that encourages the ripening of the cervix. You don’t want to risk going into premature labor.
Why the long face? You can explore other ways to get up close and personal in the bedroom. 😉
In the event that you are at risk of delivering prematurely, you may be put on bed rest.
I was fortunate because my care team put me on a modified bed rest and this gave me the opportunity to work from home full-time.
To this day, experts argue the effectiveness of bed rest in relation to the delaying of pre-term labour.
IMO if the weight of the uterus puts pressure on a shortening cervix thus potentially speeding up effacement (shortening), I would think staying off your feet as a preventative measure would be the logical thing to do.
If no reference of bed rest is made by your care team, I would highly suggest you bring it up.
If you work outside of your home, and are advised to go on bed rest, there are a couple of things you will need to consider employment wise.
Here in Ontario, expectant working moms have the option of going on sick leave prior to going on parental and maternity leave.
In the event that that your cervix keeps shortening and your baby has a high chance of being born prematurely, you will be given a series of 2-4 steroid shots administered intramuscularly in the thigh, arm, or butt, 24hrs apart.
These shots will help quicken the development of babies lungs, improving their chances of survival.
I didn’t experience any side effects from these shots other than some pain and burning at the injection site and a slight limp because I opted to have them in my thigh.
If you go into pre-term labour (before 37 weeks), your MFM Specialist will be present during the birth of your baby, alongside your OB/MW and your Neonatal Pediatrician.
They will all work together to ensure that you and baby get the best care possible.
Until next time,
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