Cervix Swelling In Labor? — The Bump
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Cervix Swelling In Labor?

I've read a lot of birth stories recently that talk about medical personnel pushing C-sections because of "cervical swelling" during labor.  I've never heard about this before in any childbirth book I've read.  What causes it, how can it be avoided, and what should one do if medical personnel start discussing c-sections for this reason?  I'm planning a natural hospital birth so I just want to be prepared.  Thanks!
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Re: Cervix Swelling In Labor?

  • I was actually speaking to a friend the other day who had been given a c-section because they tried to push a "cervical lip" out of the way and it caused swelling. She regressed a few centimeters. She said they didn't give her any other options. Just that they had to do c-section because of it. I haven't looked into specifically (although I have been meaning to) so I don't know for sure how long it might have taken for the swelling to correct itself or anything else that could be done. Sorry.

  • For my friend, it was caused when she felt an irresistible urge to push at 6 cms. She was attempting a homebirth and the midwives tried everything to get her to stop but she couldnt. Her cervix started swelling shut and she transferred to hospital for an epidural so she would stop pushing, but even after a few hours of that the swelling didnt go down and her water had been broken for some time so csection it was.
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  • image annabelle.27:
    For my friend, it was caused when she felt an irresistible urge to push at 6 cms. She was attempting a homebirth and the midwives tried everything to get her to stop but she couldnt. Her cervix started swelling shut and she transferred to hospital for an epidural so she would stop pushing, but even after a few hours of that the swelling didnt go down and her water had been broken for some time so csection it was.

    My friend had a similar experience at a birth center. The midwives had to transfer her. They tried the epidural but she still didn't progress and stayed swollen. Her labor started on a Friday morning and she had a csection Sunday afternoon. A very long labor.

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  • Lurker here... my nurse started talking about cervical swelling about 1/2 way into my 24 hours of laboring (at the hospital, I was in early labor for a couple days prior to) I instantly began bawling convinced I was doomed to a CS, I also spiked a low temp. Both of my sisters wound up with cs for failure to progress and cervical swelling. Not long after I was told this, I had an irrepressible urge that I needed to have a BM. My epidural wasn't working at all and I was no longer numb. I could have gotten up and walked across the room to get to the toilet, my nurse was being such a B and was basically telling me I didn't have to poop, couldn't poop, etc. I told her to bring me the freaking bed pan or she could change my sheets and finally she got it. I don't think I ever actually pooped but I did bear down. Meanwhile my nurse was telling me about how doing this was going to cause my cervix to swell more. Check out this link: http://midwifethinking.com/2011/01/22/the-anterior-cervical-lip-how-to-ruin-a-perfectly-good-birth/ 

    I am convinced my son was OP and that when I was bearing down, it somehow forced him to flip OA because shortly after this is when I began to progress more quickly.  I also started doing some different position (texas roll) and my cervix continued to dilate. Finally after almost exactly 24 hours of intense back labor, I began to feel a lot of pressure again and my nurse told me I was "9 and a lip". My OB came in and "pushed the lip out of the way" , sorry it sounds so gross to me lol. Man that freaking hurt, I felt and actually heard a pop when she pushed it out of the way. But I pushed him out 45 minutes after that.

    Most people will tell you swelling is caused by bearing down on a cervix which isn't fully dilated. From my personal experience and my research afterwards, in the future I will never listen to anyone who tells me not to push if I feel like I need to. I think my pushing is what saved me from a csection. The body is smart, there are reasons for everything. If a mom is feeling a strong urge and need to push, I feel like it's wrong to go against nature and tell her not to do so. That's JMO and every situation is unique and different obviously, but for me swollen cervix did not result in csection and pushing against it even when it was already swollen seemed to cause me to progress MORE quickly! Crazy but true for me.

  • I had cervical swelling and every day I'm extremely thankful that my old school OB knew how to handle it and didn't make me have a C/S. I spent a lot of time in the tub (labor only; I did not want a water birth) and got to 9cm with a lip extremely easily. I barely even noticed transition and my body began to push on its own. It felt really good.

    However, my cervix started swelling - in hindsight probably a combination of the lip and LO being OP (although I did not have back labor). My doula and the nurse both insisted that I had to stop pushing or I would make it worse. I fought pushing for two hours and it was the most horrible, painful torture I have ever experienced. I think every person on every floor of the hospital heard my screams. The OB checked in on me I think 2-3 times and suggested that I get an epidural to stop my body from pushing. I refused, sure that I could make myself stop.

    After 4 hours, I was down to a 7. My doula told me that if I didn't get an epidural, I would end up with a C/S. More than anything, I didn't want a C/S, so I relented. They gave me a "walking epidural" and my body finally stopped pushing. Once I had rested for an hour or so to recover from the hell I went through, we worked on a bunch of different positions (I could move around freely with the walking epidural, which was nice). The one that did the trick was being on my hands and knees and swaying my hips back and forth when I felt a contraction.

    I re-dilated to 10cm within an hour and they turned off the epidural so that my body could push naturally again. We had no problems after that and DS was delivered after just under an hour of pushing.

    My best suggestion is to surround yourself with a good team who knows what they are doing. Any good OB will give you a chance to work on things before sending you for a C/S. My OB was not on call and stayed until 2:30am to deliver my baby because he knew the on-call doctor would send me for a C/S. That, to me, is the definition of a provider who is looking out for my best interests.



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  • My experience was similar to PP.  Baby was OP, started to swell, was told I needed an epi so they could manipulate her or I would get a C/S.  I opted for the epi, was then told I still needed a c/s, I asked them to give me a half hour.  I turned on my side and tried different positions and, though it sounds cliche, just tried to relax.  When the OB came back to prep me I was fully dilated and she was born a half hour after that. 


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  • I had my baby on Thursday and this happened to me - I think because I beared down and pushed before I was really ready. I mistook the increased pressure for being ready to push and my midwife team (which was generally fantastic) let me do it instead of waiting for me to dilate more.

    So I was stalled at 8 cm, with a lip that just wouldn't move. The midwife offered a couple positions we could try or offered an epidural/pitocin combo - but recommended the epi/pit because she didn't think the baby would turn the way he needed to in time without it. So, I took her advice, got to 10 cm in an hour, and pushed him out in 15 minutes.

    If I had to do it all over again, I'd have waited to push. I wasn't ready. I think trying more of the lip dislodging positions would have helped too - but at that point I was hoping to avoid a c section at all costs.

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