Do I have to have a VE?
As a Hypnobirth teacher my job can sometimes be frustrating when it comes to the information the families I work with receive from some (Certainly not all) health proffesionals.
One that comes up over and over again is that you MUST have a VE (Vaginal examination) in order to be admitted to hospital, or birth centre, to receive pain relief, to be able to use the pool etc.
I say it often but here it is again. You DO NOT need to have a VE if you don’t want one. It may be your hospitals policy to offer one but they cannot insist and you must give informed consent to have one.
AIMS (Association for Improvements to Maternity Services) say…
“It is very important to know that no one can ever put their fingers into your vagina without your consent - ever. To state to a woman that she must have a VE before she is provided with access to care of any kind (for example, access to an obstetric unit, use of the pool, access to pain relief) does not provide her with the ability to say “no” if she wants that care, and therefore she is not giving informed consent.
When a midwife first arrives at the labouring woman’s home, or the woman arrives at the birth centre or hospital, it is normal practice for a VE to be offered. The general thought is that it is useful to know how dilated the woman’s cervix is in order to judge whether she is in “active labour”. However, this has very limited value, if any, because one woman’s cervix may be 3cm dilated for 3 weeks before she gives birth, and another woman’s may go from 1cm to 10cm within 2 hours. Being at 5cm does not mean that a woman is halfway through labour. Knowing what the cervix is doing now does not tell us what it will be doing in the future. While some women do find it useful to know where they are, others find it unhelpful, especially if they are less dilated than they expected to be (even though this means nothing too!). Therefore, it is important for you to decide for yourself how useful it will be to you to know that information. If you would be concerned that the answer would be disheartening, then you can decide to either not have the VE, or have the VE and not be told the answer.
If it is suspected that the baby is in a position which may make it more difficult for them to be born, then sometimes an internal examination, to feel the part of the baby which is at the cervix, can be helpful to better determine what the baby is doing. If a midwife or doctor wishes to check your baby’s position internally, this is different to checking the dilation of the cervix, and this should be clearly explained to you. However, it remains your decision whether or not to allow the examination.”
If you feel like you are not getting the information you need, or you are being led to a decision, which you are not happy about call AIMS and chat to them.
I have directly linked, their full article here, which explains reasons for VE, their benefits, risks and most importantly what the ALTERNATIVES are.
In our Hypnobirth classes we cover your rights as parents and lots more to help you feel physically prepared, confident and informed for the birth of your baby. Helping you to make the right choices for you and your baby’s birth. You can read our course outline here.
Don’t forget, we offer online coaching sessions too, as well as group workshops and private 1:1 classes. Take a look at the full course outline.