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An incompetent cervix threatens your pregnancy

A woman's cervix is the structure that contains the developing fetus inside of her uterus. When she goes into labor, the cervix will thin out and dilate, allowing the baby to pass through. Some women have a cervix that is considered incompetent. These women are at an increased risk of losing their baby because the cervix begins to open too early in the pregnancy.

There are some signs that a woman can look for when she is pregnant that could signal an incompetent cervix. These are similar to those of premature labor. They include abdominal cramping, light vaginal bleeding, pelvic pressure and backache. Any woman who experiences these symptoms before she is considered full-term should seek immediate medical care.

Many women who have an incompetent cervix have problems during the second trimester. Women who have risk factors for this condition should be evaluated to determine if a cervical cerclage or other treatments are necessary. An ultrasound and a pelvic exam are two of the tests that doctors can use to diagnose cervical incompetence.

Typically, a woman with an incompetent cervix who will need a cerclage will have it done prior to reaching the 14th week of pregnancy, but the procedure can be done up to 24 weeks. This procedure involves stitching up the cervix to help it remain intact during the pregnancy. The stitches are then removed either in the last month of pregnancy or during labor.

If you are at risk of an incompetent cervix and don't get proper monitoring, you might have a premature baby or be at risk of miscarrying your baby. In these cases, you might opt to seek compensation if your obstetrician was negligent in the care that was rendered to you.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Incompetent cervix," accessed Nov. 24, 2016

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