If you’ve just had a diagnosis, you may be wondering if there are things to avoid with a short cervix. We’ll take you through the details.
You’re pregnant, and you’ve been diagnosed with a short cervix.
One of the many questions you might have is, “are there things to avoid with a short cervix?”
Let’s help clear up some of the confusion.
We’ll talk about what a short cervix is, how it affects your pregnancy, and what you can do to help manage this condition.
In this article: 📝
- Can you have a successful pregnancy with a short cervix?
- What causes the cervix to shorten early?
- How do you take care of a short cervix during pregnancy?
- What can you not do with a short cervix?
Can you have a successful pregnancy with a short cervix?
We’ll start with the good news — yes, you can have a successful pregnancy with a short cervix.
The key is to get proper prenatal care all through your pregnancy.
So what even is a short cervix?
The cervix is like the gate between your uterus and your vagina.
The end is shaped like a little donut, and you can actually feel it if you put your finger in your vagina.
During pregnancy, the cervix starts out long and firm.
It also develops a mucus plug to keep contaminants outside of your uterus during pregnancy.
As your pregnancy continues, especially into the third trimester, your cervix gradually gets shorter, thinner, and more open in preparation for delivery.
This is what the terms “effacement” and “dilation” refer to.
This is where a short cervix can begin to cause problems.
Since the cervix shortens in preparation for delivery, an already short cervix has the potential to shorten too early, leading to premature delivery.
But with proper prenatal care, problems associated with a short cervix can be prevented.
What causes the cervix to shorten early?
If you have a short cervix, you may have been born with it.
It also could have become short before this pregnancy due to several possible factors.
What causes short cervix?
It can be caused by:
- A uterus that is a different shape, such as a split uterus
- Damage to the cervix during a previous birth
- Prior cervical surgery
- The hormonal drug diethylstilbestrol, if your mother took it while she was pregnant with you.
- A pelvic infection
Know that if you have a short cervix, it’s not your fault, and there’s no way you can know about it without a doctor’s diagnosis.
How do you take care of a short cervix during pregnancy?
The best way to take care of a short cervix is to go to all your prenatal appointments and tell your doctor about all your pregnancy symptoms, even ones that don’t seem important.
Your doctor will monitor you for short cervix if:
- You have a history of preterm labor, or preterm labor runs in your family.
- You are having symptoms of preterm labor in this pregnancy.
If you have any symptoms of preterm labor, make sure to tell your doctor ASAP.
Symptoms of preterm labor include:
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Bleeding, including light bleeding
- Changes in your vaginal discharge
If your doctor suspects you have a short cervix, they will do a transvaginal ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis.
This is an ultrasound that uses a wand that goes inside your vagina.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a short cervix, there are a few ways your doctor might treat it to prevent preterm delivery.
More frequent ultrasounds to monitor your condition.
This is when your doctor puts a stitch in your cervix to keep it closed.
They’ll remove the stitch around 37 weeks when there’s no longer a danger of preterm delivery.
This is a hormonal treatment that can help prevent preterm labor.
This is a small support device inserted near your cervix to help support it.
What can you not do with a short cervix?
As far as things to avoid with a short cervix, the truth is, there’s really nothing you need to avoid.
As long as you are seeing your doctor regularly and having an otherwise healthy pregnancy, you can continue with your normal life.
The only exception to this is if you have a cerclage, in which case, you may have to avoid sex.
Ask your doctor to see what they recommend when it comes to having sex after cervical cerclage.
It’s also possible that your doctor will put you on bed rest if you have a short cervix.
Bed rest means you will have to avoid certain physical activities like exercise and sex.
But bed rest has actually not been proven to prevent preterm labor.
So if your doctor suggests bed rest, it might be worth getting a second opinion.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a short cervix, the best thing you can do is go to all your prenatal appointments and check in with your doctor if you have any symptoms of preterm labor.
And if you want to talk about it with other women about this — or anything else — head over to our Peanut community.
We’re here for you!