“You'll Feel Me Touching You, Sweetie”: Vaginal Examinations During the Second Stage of Labor

Authors

  • Linda Bergstrom C.N.M., M.Ed., Ph.Dc.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Linda Bergstrom and Leslie Skillman are doctoral candidates at the School of Nursing, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado. Joyce Roberts is professor and head of the Department of Maternal-Child Nursing, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago. John Seidel is president of Qualis Research Associates and author of The Ethnograph computer program. Dr. Roberts is principal investigator of the Second Stage Labor Project; Dr. Seidel was a co-investigator, and Ms. Bergstrom and Ms. Skillman were research assistants on the project.
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  • Joyce Roberts C.N.M., Ph.D., F.A.A.N.,

    1. Linda Bergstrom and Leslie Skillman are doctoral candidates at the School of Nursing, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado. Joyce Roberts is professor and head of the Department of Maternal-Child Nursing, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago. John Seidel is president of Qualis Research Associates and author of The Ethnograph computer program. Dr. Roberts is principal investigator of the Second Stage Labor Project; Dr. Seidel was a co-investigator, and Ms. Bergstrom and Ms. Skillman were research assistants on the project.
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  • Leslie Skillman R.N., M.S., Ph.Dc.,

    1. Linda Bergstrom and Leslie Skillman are doctoral candidates at the School of Nursing, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado. Joyce Roberts is professor and head of the Department of Maternal-Child Nursing, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago. John Seidel is president of Qualis Research Associates and author of The Ethnograph computer program. Dr. Roberts is principal investigator of the Second Stage Labor Project; Dr. Seidel was a co-investigator, and Ms. Bergstrom and Ms. Skillman were research assistants on the project.
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  • John Seidel Ph.D.

    1. Linda Bergstrom and Leslie Skillman are doctoral candidates at the School of Nursing, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado. Joyce Roberts is professor and head of the Department of Maternal-Child Nursing, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago. John Seidel is president of Qualis Research Associates and author of The Ethnograph computer program. Dr. Roberts is principal investigator of the Second Stage Labor Project; Dr. Seidel was a co-investigator, and Ms. Bergstrom and Ms. Skillman were research assistants on the project.
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  • This research was supported by grant 1 RO1 NR0150003 from the National Nursing Research Center, National Institutes of Health, US. Department of Health and Human Services.

Address correspondence to Linda Bergstrom, Nurse-Midwifery Program, School of Nursing, Box C-288, UCHSC, 4200 East 9th Street, Denver, CO 80262.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Videotapes of women during the second stage of labor and their caregivers were examined in this descriptive study to determine how caregivers performed sterile vaginal examinations. Conversational analysis techniques were used to analyze the data. Results showed that the examinations were performed in a ritualistic manner by all caregivers, and the way the ritual was enacted repeatedly demonstrated the power of the caregivers over the women. The most common reason for performing the procedure, to help the woman push better, seems to be specific to the second stage of labor and is not described in the literature. The authors offer suggestions for better use of the examination, and recommend that it be performed far less frequently than is common.

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