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How Does Abdominal Cerclage Help Prevent Preterm Labor?

Preterm labor can put you and your baby at risk, especially if it starts occurring as early as the second trimester. An estimated 15-20% of cases of preterm labor and second-trimester pregnancy loss are associated with incompetent cervix. This is a condition in which the cervix starts to open prematurely, kickstarting the labor process. If you have experienced a related preterm birth or a loss in a previous pregnancy, abdominal cerclage may help prevent a repeat.

At the OB/GYN practice of Darin Swainston, MD, FACOG, in Las Vegas, every effort is made to support you throughout your pregnancy and birthing process. If you have suffered a loss due to incompetent cervix, Dr. Swainston can perform a procedure known as abdominal cerclage to help keep your cervix closed and prevent preterm labor.

Signs of an incompetent cervix

If you have an incompetent cervix, it’s not because of anything you did or didn’t do. This condition affects many women, and the cause is not fully known. Some women develop an incompetent cervix after a medical procedure, while others seem to have a genetic predisposition

Incompetent cervix in women is most often diagnosed after a pregnancy loss or a premature birth. If you have experienced either of these, Dr. Swainston can discuss your risks and options with you, and he may recommend an abdominal cerclage.

How an abdominal cerclage works

Dr. Swainston performs this procedure using a laparoscopic approach, meaning the surgery is performed using tiny incisions and very small tools. The surgery is also guided by robotic assistance, making every movement very precise.

Dr. Swainston makes the incisions in the lower abdomen and stitches the cervix closed so it cannot open. This can prevent pre-term labor or pregnancy loss in many women who have suffered such issues from incompetent cervix in the past. 

You can have a cerclage procedure even before you become pregnant if you are considered high risk. You can also have the procedure done as soon as you find out you're pregnant. The procedure is a fairly quick one, and you normally won’t have to go on bed rest afterward, unless you are extremely high risk with a history of multiple losses.

An important thing to know about cerclage is that you will need to have a Caesarean section to safely deliver your baby once you have reached full term. The stitches are typically left in after delivery and shouldn’t cause any future problems. 

If you’re at a high risk for preterm labor or pregnancy loss due to an incompetent cervix, it may be time to consider abdominal cerclage. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with Darin Swainston, MD, FACOG today.

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