Perhaps you have just been to a regular prenatal appointment, or went to see your doctor after you noticed contractions. You've been diagnosed with an "incompetent cervix" and told you need a stitch in the cervix. You already knew that your colleagues are incompetent, but had no idea the same could apply to your cervix, and probably think the term to be a little insulting!
Still, a cervical cerclage, that "stitch in the cervix" can do a great job at making sure the "door to your womb" stays locked until it's time for your baby to be born.
What and why?
A cervical cerclage is a small surgical procedure that involves stitching the cervix, the opening to the uterus, shut to prevent you from going into preterm labor. Some women's cervices are weak and this places them at risk of premature dilation and then contractions. Such a weak cervix may be caused by damaged cervix, as a result of a medical procedure, or there may be no obvious reason. Women who had several late miscarriages should be checked for an incompetent cervix.
A cervical cerclage can be placed preventatively in cases where it was already known the women has an incompetent or weak cervix. In that case, the stitch will be placed in the third month of pregnancy, at the end of the first trimester. Stitches can also be decided on when it becomes clear that the cervix will not stay closed, or a woman has started to show signs of premature labor.
How does the cerclage help you?
A cervical cerclage is suitable for women who are at risk of preterm labor because of an abnormally shaped or incompetent cervix; this stitch does not prevent preterm labor as a result of other causes. A cervix that opens up too early can cause miscarriage if it happens before 20 weeks, or preterm labor and the birth of a preemie if it happens later on.
The cerclage helps you by making sure the cervix remains closed. It will have to be removed around term, before you go into labor. If your cervix has already opened up significantly in the later stages of bed rest, bed rest in the hospital may be a better alternative to having a cerclage placed.