The vaginal examination during labour. Is it of benefit or harm?

New Zealand College of Midwives
Publication Type:
Journal Article
New Zealand College of Midwives Journal, 2010, 42 (May 2010), pp. 21 - 26
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Giving birth is an important life event and care practices that occur during labour and birth can have a lasting influence on the mother and the family (Beech & Phipps, 2004). The use of regular, routine vaginal examination to assess the progress of labour is one such care practice. There are two ways of viewing the vaginal examination during labour. The first regards the vaginal examination as a physically invasive intervention which can have adverse psychological consequences (Kitzinger, 2005). The second sees vaginal examination as an essential clinical assessment tool that provides the most exact measure of labour progress (Enkin et al., 2000). This paper explores thes two viewpoints in more detail and discusses the benefits versus the harms of undertaking a vaginal examination during labour. Midwives use a variety of skills and observations to assess labour progress.
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