This topic is near and dear to my heart. As a doula, I’ve seen quite a few labors that have been held back by scar tissue on the cervix.
In fact, if you’ve ever had me as your doula I’ve more than likely asked you if you have any history of GYN problems or any procedures done to your cervix. This is my way of screening for scar tissue.
And here is the reason why.
One of the very first births I attended was a woman who had a history of abnormal pap tests and had procedures done to her cervix. These procedures resulted in scar tissue on her cervix. I was a student then, and the doula I was shadowing had been there for over 24 hours. This woman’s dilation had halted at 4CM many many hours before. Many hours after I’d arrived, the midwife did a cervical exam and stated that she felt some scar tissue and asked if she could try to release it. The laboring woman agreed, and within just a few hours she was complete and had the urge to push.
That birth always stayed with me.
I’ve worked with providers who think that it’s no big deal that a woman has cervical scarring. Others are much more proactive when cervical scarring is present. Sometimes it’s a compassionate nurse that does a little manipulation and releases the scar tissue. With other clients, I may ask the provider if they could just try to massage or put pressure on the scar tissue through a contraction with mom’s permission to see what happens.
To this day it’s always worked and more often than not, the labor becomes very rapid after the scar tissue releases. It’s amazing.
I have my own history of cervical scarring. With my last pregnancy, I knew I had two areas of scarring from previous cervical procedures. The day I had my baby I had an exam, and the OB felt the scarring. She asked if she could try to release it for me in the office. Since I was heading to the hospital soon for an induction, I agreed. Terrified that I was only 1cm dilated when my midwife had checked me previously I was more than agreeable to see if we could garner any positive results. Effortlessly and thankfully for me, painlessly, she released the scar tissue. My cervix opened from 1CM to 3CM immediately! I felt SO much better going into the induction starting from 3 as opposed to 1 centimeter.
For some women manipulation of the scar tissue may be painful. For others, it may be painless. During labor sometimes all that is needed is constant pressure from the provider’s finger directly on the scar tissue through a contraction and the body will release it with minimal discomfort to mom. Of course, it will vary from individual to individual, and your mileage may vary.
Here’s a link to a great blog post on this topic. In this post, you’ll find another link to another article about it. If you have a history of any cervical procedure, please discuss it with your care provider or doula prenatally. Or at the very least, file it away in the back of your mind as something to ask about if you find yourself in a slow to progress labor.
In my experience, it’s often overlooked as one of the possibilities, and it’s typically so quick and easy to resolve.