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Cervical Edema in Labor and Ways to Reduce it

Too often a swollen cervix ends in a cesarean section delivery.

The cervix opens like an oval ring, getting wider and more round as the baby’s head presses down during labor. Effacement of the cervix is when the cervix gets thinner. Both of these need to happen for baby to born and it can be alarming when cervical edema starts to develop and stall labor.

Swelling with contractions and without progress is a sign that labor is failing to progress.

  • The swelling may be equal all around, but is usually unequal.

  • Swelling in the front of the cervix is common and usually resolves with time for flexion and molding. Sometimes you need to help to flex

  • Swelling all around is not so common and usually means the baby may need more help.

  • Swelling on one side indicates that the head is asynclitic. Do the Side-lying Release for both legs. Afterwards, lay on the side where the swelling is thicker.

  • This doesn’t mean that baby won’t fit once they make their way through the lower pelvis. The uterus will continue to contract, as it tries to correct the baby’s position.

Baby may be:

  • Occiput Posterior

  • Asynclitic

  • Deflexed

The baby may or may not be able to fix this on their own and the "wait and see" approach may only stress the womb or baby. But when we understand the need, we can begin to address the issue more intelligently. Necessary changes include flexion, rotation to a better positioning.

What can we do to reduce cervical edema?

  • Knees to chest position

  • Apply a small amount of ice in the finger sleeve of a glove to the cervix.

  • Put homeopathic tablets of Arnica or Cimicifuga on the cervix and give orally according to directions. It must be the homeopathic versions of these herbs and always consult your primary care provider

  • Have the birthing person rest on their side in a deep tub of warm water

  • An experienced doctor, midwife, or nurse might be able to flex and rotate the baby’s head.

  • An epidural may not solve the swollen cervix, but it might be offered in the hospital.

  • Benadryl- there are many studies that show the use of benadryl can reduce cervical edema

  • A cesarean may also be recommended when the labor doesn’t resume within two hours. Note: A stall in labor with a swollen cervix is not in and of itself a reason for a cesarean.

A swollen cervix will dilate and efface when the baby’s head shifts and allows for better circulation. We The cause of the stall with swelling is often a need for further flexion and rotation for the baby to line up with the lower portions of the pelvis. But we cannot forget emotional distress of the birthing as a causative factor. It’s important to understand the signs of labor in which the baby can’t fit to determine how to bestove forward.

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