The cervix is not a crystal ball.
Cervical checks during pregnancy and labor tell us very little about what is really going on.
They do not tell us:
When labor will begin- during pregnancy your provider may offer a cervical exam to see “how far along you are”, but the truth is- that number means nothing in pregnancy. You could be 3cm for weeks or 0cm and go into labor that night.
How long labor will be- the cervix does not dilate at a specific rate, you could go from 2cm to pushing baby out in 45 minutes or hang out at 9cm for a little while before your baby is totally ready. Cervical checks in labor can make some women feel really defeated if they thought they were further along- and vice a versa- sometimes they are further along than they thought and this gives them a boost of confidence.
When it is time to push- being 10cm does not mean your body is ready to push. Sometimes babies need a little more time to find just the right spot to make their way down. During physiologic birth many women feel the urge to push, this is their bodies way of telling them it is time to push. If you are utilizing an epidural and are 10cm often times the nurses will encourage you to try pushing and if there is little to no downward movement they will have you “labor down” which allows you to rest, baby to move down into the vagina more and then try again late.
There are times where a cervical exam may be helpful in making medical decision but overall they are unnecessary and overused by providers. It is important to remember that YOU choose when and if you would like a cervical exam- will the information help you or will it cause you distress?
The bottom line is that your body and baby know the right time for labor!