When we are hearing birth stories from our friends, families, the one question that pops up all the time, how much has she dilated? So I think everybody knows that women need to dilate to have a baby. And I think most of us know that the number of dilation is 10 centimeters. What does this dilation mean?
If you look at the uterus, which is placed in the pelvis.
Then this lower part of the uterus is called the cervix or the mouth of the uterus. And throughout your pregnancy, hormones make sure that this mouth is tightly closed. The muscles here are more circular in nature, and they’re very composition changes to keep the baby safe inside. The feel of this, of this cervix during pregnancy could be as hard as cartilage and that’s to ensure that this baby takes his time getting ready.
So think of it that the body has given this cervix a job to stay tightly closed till the baby’s ready. Now, when labor is about to begin, or even as the baby gets ready for birth, and there is really no technical start of labor. This long length will gradually with each contraction, be pulled up, and become pinup.
And that’s called effacement. And did you know that effacement takes the longest to happen? Thereafter as this mouth opens, that’s called dilation. So when you’re talking about progress in labor, we can’t only say how much is she dilated. We have to talk about how much is she effaced and what is the change that has happened?
That is progress, not where she is right now. The second part of it. Is that the baby has to move through the pelvis. So we have also yet another assessment of where the baby’s head is. Is it above this? Is it in the middle or is it really at the end? And those positions are called stations. And sometimes the work of the labor is effacement.
Sometimes the work of labor is dilation and sometimes the work that your body is doing is to push the baby lower. There is yet another component, which says the baby has to rotate and come out. So there is yet another, the milestone of progress. Where is the baby’s head? How is it positioned? How is his head placed?
How is the mother opening? How is the cervix thinning? Labor is about making way for the baby to come out. It is hard work labor that both the mother and the baby are doing together to facilitate the coming of the baby.