Pregnant women and their partners have probably heard and researched the term cervix dilation. Dilation of the cervix is maybe the most important thing that will happen to you before you end up giving birth to your child. This is something you need to know in order to understand doctors and nurses talking about childbirth and what will happen to your body during childbirth.
About the Cervix
The cervix is a narrow part of the uterus which connects the uterus with the top of the vagina. Because the cervix is a Latin word for the neck, this organ is also known as the neck of the uterus. It is responsible for shedding of the endometrium during menstruation and some also believe that stretching of the cervix is the cause of menstrual cramps. Apart from these functions, the cervix is also responsible for childbirth, because cervical dilation due to uterus contractions will enable a child to pass through the cervix and be born.
Before pregnancy, the cervix is thick and firm, located in the back and not opened. Pregnancy causes changes in the whole body, including hormonal changes and these hormones actually affect your cervix and change it in order to be ready for labor when the time comes. When childbirth gets nearer, the uterus will start to contract, thus thinning the cervix and causing its opening or dilation.
Most women hear about cervix dilation in childbirth or prenatal education classes. Nurses and doctors usually explain how the cervix thins out and dilates before childbirth. Another time to talk about cervix dilation is when a pregnant woman gets near her term, because the gynecologist may perform vaginal exam in order to assess how near labor is.
How Much Open Should You Be for Labor?
There are no exact charts to tell you how much centimeters (cm) you (your cervix) should be open in order to have a baby. Every woman is different and so is every childbirth. There are some charts and practitioners may say something like one centimeter per hour but no one can tell for sure. Also, be prepared to hear many different theories about the size and openness of the cervix.
In general, woman’s cervix may be dilated to 2 or 4 cm, but most doctors agree that prior to 5cm of cervix dilation, a woman is in early stages of labor. Active labor is usually characterized with cervix dilated from 5 to 7cm, while 7 to 10 cm dilated cervix is the sign of approaching childbirth.Usually, dilated cervix of about 10cm means that a woman is fully dilated and ready for labor.