In many cases, you won’t know that your body is slightly abnormal until it’s time to have a baby. You might have an ill-positioned uterus, a short urethra or a natural produced spermicide. Without pregnancy, you could live your entire life never knowing you had any of these abnormalities. However, when the time comes for your first pregnancy checkup after conception, you might receive a whole slew of new diagnoses on your body. One of these problems could be an incompetent cervix.

A cervix that is incompetent is no less knowledgeable than any other, but instead it is weaker and unable to hold the weight of the baby during pregnancy. Since the cervix is the opening from the uterus to the outside of the body, a weak one can be dangerous as the baby grows bigger and bears down on that opening. To prevent premature labor or an amniotic sac rupture, your doctor may suggest a cervical cerclage if you have an incompetent cervix.

A cervical cerclage is the stitching up of the cervix during pregnancy to prevent preterm labor. The procedure is 90% effective and is usually performed by the 14th week of your pregnancy. By then, your doctor will know for sure if your cervix is strong or not, and the cerclage will be in place just in time as your baby gets heavier and begins to push his or her way out of the birth canal too early.

The only alternative to a cerclage for women with particularly weak cervixes is bed rest, so many opt for the stitching so that they can enjoy the rest of their pregnancy normally.

If you get a cervical cerclage, you might need to stay in the hospital while the stitching heals, but a few days after that you can resume your normal activities. Unless you have any premature labor contractions or infection from the procedure, your doctor will remove the stitching at the 37th week of pregnancy and labor might be induced.

The risks associated with a cervical cerclage pale in comparison to the risks of preterm labor or amniotic fluid infection. Babies that are born preterm could have developmental disabilities that negatively affect them for the rest of their life, so a minor medical procedure during your pregnancy is nothing compared to years of suffering on the part of your child after he or she is born too early.

Source: Vincenzo Berghella et al: Cerclage for Short Cervix on Ultrasonography in Women With Singleton Gestations and Previous Preterm Birth: A Meta-Analysis. Obstetrics and Gynecology Volume 117 Issue 3 pp. 663-671 March 2011