During the first stage of labour, which begins with the onset of regular uterine contraction, it plays instrumental role in assessing the progress made in labour. It provides information about the cervical effacement and dilatation, descent , position and attitude of the fetus. But it may also give rise to certain problems like infections, premature stimulation of cervix, premature rupture of membranes and women find them uncomfortable. The approach used by midwives to vaginal exam further adds to the problems. While undertaking these exams, they become inconsiderate towards the feelings of the women and in their attempt to deliver a healthy baby ignore their professional ethics , which requires them to provide a supportive, encouraging atmosphere for birth, respectful of the woman’s wishes. Although midwives acquire enough skill through practice and experience to use external signs to gain knowledge about the progress, still they consider it the most accurate method.
This study revolves around vaginal examination at the onset of labour. It attempts to find the reason behind the frequent use of these interventions to assess the progress during first stage, despite its problematic nature. This report explores the necessity and effectiveness of the vaginal exams in assessing the progress. It brings to notice the problems faced by the women from vaginal examination and from the methodology used by the midwives in conducting them. It considers the alternative techniques that can be used instead of vaginal examination. This study takes into consideration the results of various researches done on vaginal examination during the labour.