What is a cervical stitch and why is it necessary?

If the cervix starts to shorten and open too early during pregnancy, a cervical stitch can prevent either a late miscarriage or preterm birth. Registered midwife Pippa Hime explains the procedure.

What is a cervical stitch

The cervix is the small passage of tissue that connects the vagina and the uterus. It controls what enters or exits the uterus. During a routine pregnancy, the cervix remains closed tightly to keep the baby in and prevent any germs from entering the uterus. However, in a small percentage of cases, the cervix is weak or thin and needs what is referred to as a cervical stitch to keep it closed.

ALSO SEE: 10 pregnancy warning signs to look out for

What is a cervical stitch?

A cervical stitch or cerclage is a medical procedure, where a stitch is placed in the cervix to hold it closed. The procedure usually is performed just after the first trimester, but also as late as 24 weeks if the baby looks as though it may be born prematurely.

The procedure

It is a day procedure, using local anesthetic and mild sedation if necessary. You may be kept overnight if it is done in the late afternoon. After the procedure, you may experience some mild cramping and possible spotting, and you need to rest, so you may be booked off work. You are usually asked to abstain from sex for a week or so after having the stitch put in.

Read more on bleeding and spotting during pregnancy here.

Why would I need this procedure?

If your cervix starts to thin and is seen as a risk in the pregnancy, then your obstetrician may need to place a cervical stitch to keep it closed. If you have had a history of multiple miscarriages, your doctor may also advise that you have the procedure to prevent any complications in your current pregnancy.

When will the stitch be removed?

It is usually removed at about 37-38 weeks of pregnancy. However, if you show signs of early labour, you need to inform your healthcare providers that you have a cervical stitch in place.

ALSO SEE: Increase your chances to carry full-term


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