Vaginal exams in pregnancy

If you don’t want it, just say no!

Vaginal exams in pregnancyWarning: Rant ahead! I wrote this months ago – the original version was a little more, um…passionate. I’ve just now toned it down to where I feel comfortable posting it. Still pretty opinionated. This rant doesn’t apply in the least to moms who want exams and get them. This rant is about moms who feel bullied into an exam they don’t want.

So three times in three places in the last 24 hours I have had people ask “Can I say no to a vaginal exam?” or “I really hate vaginal exams and wish I could say no.”

Can I just say that it really disturbs me that we live in a culture where women do not even KNOW that they can control what happens to their bodies? That they even think they do not have the power to prevent someone from sticking fingers into their vagina?

When will girls be taught that they are in charge of their own bodies? So that they grow up into women who know they are in charge of their bodies? My girls definitely know that, but so many others are being taught otherwise. It makes me sad.

NO ONE, not a doctor, not a midwife, not your partner, NO ONE BUT YOU gets any say about what does – or does not – happen to your body. Anyone who thinks they can override mom’s control over her body is crossing a scary line.


Why they suggest it:

To satisfy curiosity

What it tells you:
It tells you where things are right now.

What it can tell you about the future:
Absolutely NOTHING. I’ve worked with moms who walked around 5+ cm dilated for weeks. I’ve worked with moms who were emotionally devastated because the cervix was closed, firm and posterior at a prenatal, only to have a spontaneous labor and happy baby in their arms less than 24 hours later. There is absolutely no evidence that exams in late pregnancy have any benefit or predictive value.

What you can do if you don’t want one:

Take someone else with you to your appointment, and have them come in the exam room with you. It’s easier to say no when someone has your back.

Keep your pants on. It’s harder to say no when you’ve already disrobed from the exam.