Cervical dilation is the process whereby your cervix, the lowest part of the uterus, stretches during childbirth. The cervix dilating (opening) process is a means for healthcare providers to monitor the development of your labor.
For new mothers, the cervix dilates to around 10 cm (cm) in order to permit the entrance of the baby’s head into the vagina. You’re in active labor if your cervix is dilated and you’re experiencing regular, painful contractions.
This guide explains all on the dilation chart and how it relates to your labor progress. There are three stages of labor with distinct cervical dilation.
Stage 1 of labor
The initial stage of labor is known as the latent phase of labor. When it comes to labor, it’s more like the “waiting game.” For first-time moms, labor’s latent phase might take a long time to move through.
Contractions are weak and irregular during this time. This is the final “warming up,” softening, and shortening” stage before the big showdown with labor.
Think of the uterus as a big, round, bloated balloon. Imagine the cervix as the balloon’s neck and the entrance. The cervix, like the balloon’s neck, rises with the pressure of the air behind it as you fill it up.
The cervix is nothing more than the uterine cavity’s lower entrance rising and widening in preparation for the new life within.
When the cervix dilates to roughly 5 to 6 centimeters and contractions begin to develop lengthier, stronger, and closer together, a woman is regarded to be in the active stage of labor.
The rate of cervical dilation each hour distinguishes the active phase of labor from the rest. Your cervix should open more frequently at this point in your pregnancy.
How stage 1 relates to the dilation chart
In women, there is no scientifically proven guideline for how long the latent and active periods last. During the active stage of labor, a woman’s dilation can range from 0.5 centimeters per hour to 0.7 centimeters per hour.
If this is your first child, the rate at which your cervix dilates will also vary. Pregnant women who have given birth before are more likely to speed up the process of childbirth.
For whatever reason, some women will advance at a faster rate than others. Once they reach a certain point of dilation, some women may appear to “stall.”
Most women may count on a consistent dilatation of their cervical canal every hour after labor enters its active phase. Many women don’t begin dilating more often until they’re at least 6 centimeters dilated.
During the first stage of labor, the cervix is fully dilated to 10 centimeters and completely effaced (thinned out).
Stage 2 of labor
When a woman’s cervix has dilated to a diameter of 10 centimeters or more, she enters the second stage of labor. There is no guarantee that the baby will be born promptly even if the lady is completely dilated.
When a woman reaches complete cervical dilatation, the baby may still not be ready for birth since it hasn’t yet traveled down the birth canal. It’s time to push when the baby is in the right place. After the baby is born, the second stage comes to a conclusion.
How stage 2 of labor relates to the dilation chart
At this point, the baby’s delivery time might again be quite variable. From a few minutes to several hours, it’s possible. Women can give birth in as little as a few vigorous pushes or as long as an hour or more of pushing.
Only when the mother is experiencing contractions will she be able to push, hence she is advised to take a nap in between. At this point, contractions should occur every 2 to 3 minutes and last between 60 and 90 seconds.
For first-time mothers and women who have had epidurals, pushing takes longer. As a result, a woman’s desire to push may be lessened or even hindered if she has an epidural.
Stage 3 of labor
The third and last stage of the labor process is often overlooked. Even after the baby is born, a woman’s body is still hard at work, even if the “big event” of childbirth has occurred. She’s delivering the placenta at this point.
During pregnancy, the uterus forms a whole new organ, known as the placenta. The placenta no longer serves a purpose once the baby is delivered, thus the mother’s body must get rid of it.
The same contractions that deliver the baby also deliver the placenta. In comparison to the contractions required to remove the baby, they may not be as intense. When the doctor tells the woman to start pushing, the placenta is usually delivered in a single push by the mother.