5 Signs Of An Incompetent Cervix, Which Can Put Mom & Baby At Risk

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If you didn't pay close attention during Sex Ed, you may not be too confident in your anatomical knowledge. So when you become pregnant, it's helpful to brush up on all the lingo you're likely to hear during your upcoming prenatal visits.One medical term your doctor might mention is an incompetent cervix. Besides just knowing the name, it's also important to know what symptoms in your pregnancy should warrant concern for this condition. That's why being aware of the signs of an incompetent cervix is an essential element of having a healthy pregnancy.

You're definitely not alone if this is the first time you're even hearing about this pregnancy complication. According to the official website for the Mayo Clinic, "an incompetent cervix is when weak cervical tissue contributes to premature birth or the loss of an otherwise healthy pregnancy." To clarify, your cervix is supposed to become thin and dilate, but only when you're about to give birth. If it softens before then, that's when it's considered to be an incompetent cervix, or cervical insufficiency, as the Mayo Clinic further noted. It's completely normal to worry about miscarrying in the beginning and possible complications with labor or delivery. Although it can be overwhelming to think about scenarios like premature birth or miscarriage, arming yourself with knowledge can go a long way in easing your mind. Check out these signs of an incompetent cervix so you can feel more prepared.

1Pressure

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According to Baby Center, one of the main symptoms of an incompetent cervix is pelvic pressure. The site noted that this typically occurring between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, but could occur at any time.

2Spotting

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Surprisingly, the signs of cervical insufficiency are actually fairly subtle. As OB-GYN Dr. Rebecca Kolp told The Bump, light spotting can indicate an incompetent cervix. Obviously a small amount of bleeding could be nothing at all or something serious, so always check with your physician whenever there is blood during pregnancy.

3Back Pain

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Although back pains are pretty common in pregnancy, they don't usually occur in the earlier stages. That's why back pain can be a sign of cervical insufficiency, according to the official site for The Mayo Clinic. Again, there isn't exactly a hard and fast rule for an aching back. Talk to your doctor to rule out an incompetent cervix.

4Unusual Discharge

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Though vaginal discharge is normal in women, pregnant or not, it's a good idea to keep an eye on things. According to Healthline, a change in discharge could indicate an incompetent cervix. Look for signs like an increase in the amount, a change in color, or unusual texture.

5Cramping

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Abdominal cramping is a fairly large umbrella term for a variety of issues. But something specific, such as premenstrual-like cramping, is a sign of cervical insufficiency, as Baby Center noted. If anything ever feels "off," don't hesitate to reach out to a medical professional.