As if pregnancy and labor aren't stressful enough, you may have heard the term "cervical cerclage" from your OB-GYN. As scary as this tongue twister of a procedure sounds, it doesn't have to be traumatizing. Generally, when planned, it's pretty simple and you don’t feel a thing since you have general anesthesia — a cervical cerclage just involves stitches to strengthen your cervix to prevent preterm labor. But what if you need one in an emergency? Can you feel an emergency cerclage?
Dr. Fares Diarbakerli, an OB-GYN practicing in northern New Jersey, tells Romper in an email that a regular cervical cerclage procedure is typically performed at the end of the first trimester while the cervix is still closed.
According to American Pregnancy Association, a typical cerclage procedure is done as a preventative measure in women who have a weak cervix at 12 to 14 weeks, in order to keep the cervix from dilating early by stitching it shut. An emergency cerclage is done once the cervix is already dilated, shortened, and thinned out.
Why would you need a cerclage in the first place? Experts say it has to do with your cervix and whether it’s "incompetent." What makes your cervix incompetent has nothing to do with an IQ test, but whether or not it’s strong enough, long enough, or if it dilates early without pain or contractions.
Dr. Miao Crystal Yu, an OB-GYN at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, says to Romper in an email, "You would not feel an emergency cerclage, as it is done in the same fashion as a 'routine' cerclage — in the operating room and under anesthesia."
While you may not feel the stitching during the procedure, you may feel some of the side effects after, especially if there are complications. And though there are some risks with a cerclage that is performed in early pregnancy, it seems like there is a bit more of a risk for complications if you have an emergency cerclage.
"Complications of an advanced cervical cerclage procedure include a membrane rupture, either intraoperatively or in the immediate postoperative period, and is a major concern, especially with advanced cervical dilation," Dr. Deepti Siddaramappa, a gynecologist at Health City Cayman Islands writes in an email to Romper.
Other complications, which can also occur during a scheduled cerclage, can include intra amniotic infection, or suture migration. Intra amniotic infection is a bacterial infection that gets into the uterus from your vagina, according to Merck Manual.
Diarbakerli also notes, "Depending on the severity and the stage [of dilation], you can rupture the membrane, and there's increased risk of infections if done too late."
If you’ve had a history of second-trimester miscarriages, a damaged cervix from a previous abortion, or had a LEEP procedure, set up a consultation with your doctor for a transvaginal exam — this can determine if you need to have a cervical cerclage procedure done. In this instance, it’s definitely better to know sooner rather than later, so you don't find yourself in an emergency situation. The good news is, no matter what, you won't feel the procedure.