You probably could -- with much difficulty and Twister-worthy moves -- somehow wrap your arm around your pregnant belly and...
You probably could -- with much difficulty and Twister-worthy moves -- somehow wrap your arm around your pregnant belly and up into your vagina to check on your cervical dilation. It wouldn't be easy, and it sure wouldn't be comfortable. (Are cervical exams ever fun?) pregnant-woman-big-belly.jpgSo let's say you have gorilla-length arms and can manage the contortions. Should you try to do a DIY internal exam? That answer is probably no, unless you're a trained physician, nurse or midwife. Sticking your hands up there does pose several risks: You could nick the amniotic sac (accidentally breaking your water), bruise or cut the cervix, or otherwise cause problems. Even if you're wearing gloves, putting your fingers deep inside can push the bacteria normally found in the lower part of vagina up towards the cervix, upping your chances of infection. And then you need to ask yourself: Do you know what you're feeling for? Are you really sure how to find your cervix, and, once you locate it, can you evaluate its condition (effacement, dilation, ripeness -- and to what degrees)? If not, the "Getting to know your vagina" field trip probably should wait until a couple months after birth. Finally, an internal exam is really not going to tell you much. Especially before true labor begins, how much you've dilated or effaced won't predict when your baby will be born! Some women take weeks to dilate to 3 or 4 centimeters, while others manage it in less than an hour. Labor grooves to its own rhythm, and things tend to work out best when you let it.

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