What the Numbers Mean When You Get a Cervical Check

What the Numbers Mean When You Get a Cervical Check | Baby Chick

What the Numbers Mean When You Get a Cervical Check

Cervical checks aren’t the most fun. They can be quite uncomfortable and even painful for most women. But when your doctor or midwife says it’s time to check your cervical progress, it’s important to understand what the numbers mean. 2 centimeters, 80%, and -2…. what?! Let’s break it down and talk about effacement, dilation, and station and the importance of each when getting a cervical check.

Effacement

Effacement, cervical check

Image via whattoexpect.com

Normally, before pregnancy and during the early months of pregnancy, your cervix is long and firm — it’s around 2 to 3 cm long. Effacement (measured in percentage) is the process of your cervix becoming thinner, softer, and shorter. In late pregnancy or early labor, Braxton Hicks contractions start to shorten (efface) your cervix. Once your cervix has shortened to 1 cm, it is then 50% effaced. As you can see in the diagram above, it’s our goal to reach 100% effacement so there is no cervix left.

As most women discover towards the end of their pregnancies, effacement often begins before the expecting woman goes into labor. When your care provider does a pelvic check, he or she may say that your cervix is soft or he/she may even say a certain percentage your cervix is effaced. It’s good to know that number. Your care provider will also say the dilation of your cervix at this time. Most people tend to focus on the dilation number, but effacement is just as important. But first, what is dilation?

Dilation

cervical dilation during pregnancy and labor

Image via slideshare.net

Once your cervix has effaced (is thinner and softer), it begins to open, which is dilation. Our cervix is the opening of our uterus and it is normally tightly shut. Braxton Hicks contractions can cause your cervix to dilate before active labor begins; this is why you sometimes hear about women being 3 centimeters dilated but not yet in labor. Or you could be on the other side of the spectrum and your cervix can be firmly closed till you are in active labor. Both experiences are completely normal. It’s not until regular contractions begin (when your contractions are at least 5 minutes apart, each is about 1 minute long, and that is going on continuously for at least an hour) that your cervix will begin to open (dilate) more.

As I stated before, dilation tends to be the number that people focus on the most because they know that they have to be 10 centimeters before they can push out their baby. While dilation is an important part of your cervical check, it is not the only factor that matters. Your cervix has to be effaced before it can dilate so paying attention to your effacement is just as important.

For example, I’ve had clients in labor that were declared 5 cm dilated and 70% effaced, and then after two hours pass, they are checked again and they are still 5 cm but 90% effaced. When that happens, people begin to get frustrated because they are still only 5 cm, but they are forgetting that their cervix is getting thinner, which is required before it can reach 10 cm. Going from 70% to 90% is still good progress and you shouldn’t let yourself get too discouraged.

If you are wondering when is considered active labor, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) states that at 6 cm dilation is when you are no longer in early labor and are now in active labor. At this time, your contractions will be noticeably longer, stronger, and closer together.

actual dilation, measuring the cervix for dilation

If you are wondering how care providers measure dilation, they do it with their fingers. One finger inside your cervix is 1cm, two fingers in your cervix are 2 cm, and they slowly start to spread their index finger and middle finger to continue to measure to 10 cm. This is why checking for dilation is subjective because everyone has different sized hands and one person might think you are 7 cm while another person claims that you are 8 cm.

At 10 cm, your cervix is paper-thin (100% effaced), there is no cervix left and you are fully dilated which we call “complete”. For a better understanding, 10cm is about the size of a softball/a baby’s head.

Station

stages of station during pregnancy, cervical check

Image via brooksidepress.org

Most care providers won’t even state the baby’s station out loud during a cervical check. The “station” of baby refers to the position of your baby’s head in relation to your pelvis. This is recorded as a number between -5 (minus five) and +5 (plus five). Zero station means the head is “engaged” on the cervix and has entered the vaginal canal within the pelvic bones. A negative number (-5 to 0) means that your baby’s head isn’t engaged in the pelvis. During labor, it is common for a baby to be at -3, -2, or -1. A positive number (0 to +4) means that your baby’s head is moving down the pelvis and +5 means your baby is crowning (being born). Ideally, you should not push until the head is engaged in the pelvis (at least 0 station), but it is even better to wait until the baby is lower in the pelvis. This will help decrease your pushing time and reduce your chances of swelling.

In labor, it’s nice to know if the baby is getting lower in the pelvis so if your care provider is going to do a cervical check, ask what your baby’s station is. Knowing the effacement, dilation, and station gives you an overall look at how much progress you are making and how much more progress your body needs to make to have your baby.

Just FYI, I want all women to know, you can refuse cervical checks. The only two that you can’t get away from are 1) when you first get to the hospital (they need to make sure you are really in labor and you have made progress) and 2) to check when you are complete (10 cm, 100%) so you can begin pushing. Knowing what your effacement, dilation, and baby’s station are during pregnancy or labor does not tell you when you are going into labor or how much longer your labor will be. Every woman progresses differently. It’s nice to know them just to see the progress your body is making, but ultimately, it will not benefit you or your baby in any way other than knowing where you’re at that moment. If your water has been broken, more cervical checks could lead to infection so I recommend limiting them. Whether you get a cervical check or not, your body will know when it’s ready to have a baby.

I hope these descriptions help you understand a little bit more about what your care provider is doing and looking for during a cervical check. Here’s to hoping that they are quick and painless!

SaveSave

About the Author /

Nina is The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®. She is a baby planner, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, newborn care specialist, and a mother. With over eight years of experience, she has supported hundreds of families during their pregnancies, births, and postpartum journeys.

#FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Even when you are quarantined! Because when you ha Even when you are quarantined! Because when you have to work full-time and take care of the kids and the house full-time, it's extra difficult to be on time . . . Thank goodness for naptime. Just wish I could take a nap too. 😴 When does school reopen again?⁠
(quote via @mom.wine.repeat)
20 Books to Read Aloud to Your Kids This Summer⁠ 20 Books to Read Aloud to Your Kids This Summer⁠ 📚☀️⁠
.⁠
It is a well-known fact that a child starts learning from the day it is born. 🧠 In fact, from the time they're born until age 5, a child learns at a speed that is unmatched for the rest of his life! What you, as a parent, do during that critical developmental time period to help your child learn will set him up for even more success later in life. And one of the most beneficial ways you can help your child learn is to read aloud to him or her every day. ⁠{Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading and see the list!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: Cheyenne @senseandserendipitybog⁠
📷: @speechwithrach
Remember when you heard your baby’s first cry wh Remember when you heard your baby’s first cry when they were born? ❤️ It was the best sound you had ever heard. Overjoyed that your baby is finally here.⁠
But as the days progressed, so did the cries. And you had to learn what each cry meant. Were they hungry? Tired? In pain? Bored? Needed a new diaper? Too hot? Too cold? It was overwhelming as you went through the checklist to make sure your baby was okay and cared for. But with each day and each cry you got smarter. You learned what each whimper and cry meant. And your baby learned that he/she could always trust you.⁠
Whether you're dealing with newborn cries, toddler cries, or preteen cries, you're doing great, mama. Take three deep breaths. You can do this. And if you feel like you're about to break and need a second, leave them somewhere safe, step away for a couple of minutes, and gather yourself. Then try again. You are a great mother and in time you will know how to soothe their every cry. 💕
100 Coolest Baby Boy Names 👶💙⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ 100 Coolest Baby Boy Names 👶💙⁠⠀
.⁠⠀
We polled over 200 moms and here’s what they said the coolest baby boy names are. What would you add to the list? {Click 🔗 in bio to see the list!⁠}⁠⠀
.⁠⠀
Article by: Tasha Mayberry⁠⠀
⁠📷: unknown
Oh god, honey. No. It just gets different. Not eas Oh god, honey. No. It just gets different. Not easier.⁠
📷: @momlikethatpodcast
Puracy: Natural & Safe Household Products That Act Puracy: Natural & Safe Household Products That Actually Work⁠
.⁠
As the family member in our household who cleans the inside of our home, I'm the one who decides what cleaning products we use. And as a mom, I'm hyper-aware of what I'm surrounding myself with as I scrub the floors and toilets and what my toddler is also being exposed to with every spray and wipe. Thankfully, it's wider known now that many cleaning products contain harmful ingredients and release dangerous toxic chemicals. 😳 Even products that are labeled as "green" or "natural" may contain ingredients that can cause future health problems. So how do you know who you can trust? Other than reading every label and googling what each ingredient means? Find a company that believes in full transparency, who uses only plant-based ingredients, and who's products work. I've done this for our family and we're now using @Puracy, a company that creates natural and organic, non-toxic, plant-based, hypoallergenic, and effective home essentials that are safe for the entire family. Here's what I learned while testing Puracy and why we are using them in our home and with our family. ❤️ {Click 🔗 in bio to read my review!⁠}⁠ #ad #puracy⁠
📷: @allisonermon_photography
By throwing everything in the closet or under the By throwing everything in the closet or under the bed does not mean "cleaned" your room. 🤦‍♀️⁠
📷: @playdatesoffridays
#stoprunning #sitdown #stopdoingthat #doyouneedtog #stoprunning #sitdown #stopdoingthat #doyouneedtogotothepotty #NO⁠
⁠
What are yours??
Remember what it was like when you were home with Remember what it was like when you were home with a newborn? Remember how you felt? Tired. Sore. Swollen. Engorged. So happy to finally meet your baby but also completely exhausted. You wished you had more help. You wished you could take a break. You wished you could only focus on staring at your baby and snuggling them and not have to worry about preparing food, chores, etc.⁠
Even though things may be more difficult now to offer help, still try to be the friend you wished you had when your babies were newborns to your friends and loved ones. ❤️ Things you can do:⁠
- Drop off a meal at their door⁠
- Drop off some of your favorite postpartum recovery items or breastfeeding products you loved⁠
- Go grocery shopping for them and leave it at the door⁠
- Send them a meal delivery service gift card⁠
- Bake her some lactation cookies (if she is breastfeeding)⁠
- Drop off any hand-me-downs from your kids⁠
- Pay a housekeeping service to come over and clean her house⁠
- Set up a meal train with her friends⁠
- Drop off diapers and wipes⁠
- Self-quarantine for 2 weeks and come over to help with the house and baby so she can take a nap or a shower⁠
- Pay for a few hours for a postpartum doula or a night nanny to help her out⁠
There is so much you can do! And every little bit helps. What else would you add to the list? 💕
Any mamas feel me? Pass the coffee. 😑☕☕☕⁠
📷: @momandburied
This is so accurate. And happens pretty much anywh This is so accurate. And happens pretty much anywhere we go if we leave the house. 🤦‍♀️😂⁠
📷: unknown
Keeping Track of Baby Milestones: 0-3 Months Old⁠ 👶⁠
.⁠
Typically, the first three months of your child’s development will be marked by key developments including control and lifting of their head, a first smile and even a laugh, and making eye contact. 👀 It’s an exciting time when bonding is important and your baby is changing rapidly before your eyes. 😍 Pediatricians will go through developmental milestone checklists with patients, asking parents about their child’s sensory, communication, and movement changes, keeping an eye out for any red flags. 🚩 Generally, it’s not concerning if a baby isn’t hitting one or two milestones on time. Be sure to adjust for prematurity or stress factors. If your newborn is missing multiple abilities or you feel concerned, check in with your child’s pediatrician. 👩‍⚕️ Here are the different milestones to look out for each month from 0-3 months. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: @kristen_vhmiddleton⁠
📷: @ana_styles
😑😒⁠ 📷: @parentnormal 😑😒⁠
📷: @parentnormal
Love you but you have worn me out and I'm done. Ea Love you but you have worn me out and I'm done. Early bedtime tonight. Night night. 👋😘😂⁠
(quote via @mimosaswithmom)
Top 10 Coolest Baby Girl Names 🎀⁠ .⁠ So you Top 10 Coolest Baby Girl Names 🎀⁠
.⁠
So you’re about to have a baby girl and you’re looking for a cool name for her, right? You want a name that captures the essence of who she is and the girl and woman that you envision her becoming. A name that sets her apart and celebrates her unique gifts. A name you can imagine being written on her cubby at preschool, her college entrance essay, her first novel.⁠
⁠
You want your precious daughter to have a name that will convey all the qualities and values that you hope she will embody: you need a name fit for a queen, an astronaut, a good friend, a doctor, a professional athlete, a spiritual leader, a wonderful mother, a nurse, an activist, a scholar, a student, a leader, a follower, a good person—any of the things you imagine she can and will become in her lifetime.⁠
⁠
Finding a cool baby girl name may seem like a daunting task. There are so many options! Research shows that names for baby girls are currently trending towards representations of nature, gemstones, and food. Also growing in popularity for girls’ names are names that are not common girls names at all—such as names that have been traditionally used for boys, or last names. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: @kristen_vhmiddleton⁠
📷: @mochi.sucre
Major reasons why you can never spoil a newborn. ❤️⁠
📷: @renee.barendregt & @gentleparenting_memes
When Do You Start Showing in Pregnancy? 🤰⁠
.⁠
Every woman is different when she begins showing in pregnancy. I remember clearly the day I finally saw my beloved baby bump. It was a Monday and I was at work. I saw myself in the bathroom mirror and smiled broadly at my suddenly noticeable bump. Glowing, I rubbed my little tummy as I checked out my new, different-looking profile in the mirror. My office friends had noticed that morning as well and had complimented me and my little bump. Naturally, I took a selfie. I was so excited to see that I was finally showing. I couldn’t stop smiling all day! 😊 {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: @kristen_vhmiddleton⁠
⁠📷: @matfelipe
"It doesn't matter if you have a newborn, a toddle "It doesn't matter if you have a newborn, a toddler, or a teenager. These are the things our children need to feel from those around them. The same things that you and I even as adults want to feel from those around us. We want to feel seen. We want to be soothed when we are hurt. We want to feel safe when we are with people. We want to feel secure in our relationships with others. We don't outgrow the need to feel those things. In a crazy world, let your children feel those things. Let them know 'Hey, I see you. I see you're sad or mad. I am here with a hug when you're ready and if you need it. You are safe to feel how you feel and be who you are. You don't have to worry about my love for you. Be secure in that. Bad times or good times, I am here for you and I love you.' Because how good does it feel when we feel that way from those around us?"⁠
.⁠
Words & 📷: @thebuonamama
We learn as we go. It's okay to make mistakes. Ack We learn as we go. It's okay to make mistakes. Acknowledge them, and once you know better, do better. ❤️⁠
(quote via Karen Kleiman from "This Isn't What I Expected")
What Color Eyes Will Your Baby Have? 👁️⁠
.⁠
Expecting parents often wonder what their baby will look like once he's born. 🤔 Will she have light or dark hair? Will she inherit your freckles? What color eyes will your baby have? When I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I had fun wondering these same things. Would he have a round face? Would he have my nose? My husband’s cheeks? The only thing we knew for sure was that he would have deep brown eyes and dark brown hair, just like his mom and dad. Or so we thought.⁠ 😮 {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: Jennifer Hill Robenault⁠
⁠📷: @amymelissaphoto
My Favorite Cloth Diapering Systems 👶⁠ .⁠ T My Favorite Cloth Diapering Systems 👶⁠
.⁠
Think diaper changing is straight forward and simple? Not so fast for the cloth diapering mamas. While cloth diapers generally save us quite a bit of cash after that initial investment 💰, it does require a bit of a process, and a good cloth diapering system, to make it less time-consuming. The good news? Once you have it down and have the right tools on hand, it doesn’t have to be all that difficult at all. 🙌 Here are some favorite cloth diapering systems (and tips) that make diaper changes (and cleaning) way more manageable.⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: Rebecca Jacobs⁠
📷: @thetuckertribe5⁠
Yes, Yes, YES!!! ❤️ Yes, Yes, YES!!! ❤️
Sometimes a good soak in the tub with some bath sa Sometimes a good soak in the tub with some bath salts, a face scrub, and some cucumber slices can make your day. 😍⁠
📷: @jhonnycurran
First of all, we think all moms are incredible. 💕 Today’s shoutout goes to the career moms. We know the struggles because we are you. May this weekend bring you all rest, peace, and joy. 🥰 Sending out all of the love and respect! 🙇‍♀️
(quote via @beyonce)
You Can't Spoil a Baby, Here's Why 👶💕⁠
.⁠
The battle of opinions regarding whether or not you can spoil a baby has been raging for decades, especially among grandparents and those born during the time of little affection. Our children's great-grandparents were most likely raised with the idea that love and affection and responding to a baby's cries will spoil them and make them even fussier. While that idea might seem ludicrous to us, there's a reason such an approach was widely believed. Here's what parenting has looked like over the decades and how present-day science says you cannot spoil a baby. ❤️ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: Rachel MacPherson⁠
📷: @trinitysierra
They repeat what we do. Show them love. Love for o They repeat what we do. Show them love. Love for others and for yourself. ❤️⁠
📷: @fleurdelisspeaks⁠
Her stuff is great. Check out her page!
What Happens to a Woman's Brain When She Becomes a What Happens to a Woman's Brain When She Becomes a Mother? 🧠❤️⁠
.⁠
Most women who have had children are fully aware of the hormonal and emotional changes that they experience. However, science is only just starting to understand how these changes occur in human mothers’ brains. While mothers know what it feels like to experience these changes, most of us don't know exactly what happens to a woman's brain when she becomes a mother. Turns out, a lot is happening! 😲 {Click 🔗 in bio to read more about it!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: Rachel MacPherson⁠
📷: @emfillerup
You may think that you are helping them by doing e You may think that you are helping them by doing everything for them. But there comes a time when they need to learn how to do things for themselves. ⁠
"Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime." The same rule applies.⁠
We want our kids to be strong, independent, self-reliant, and successful. They learn quickly what they can get away with. Teaching them kindness and a good work ethic from the beginning goes a long way. ❤️⁠ Put the hard work in now and watch them bloom into a strong and independent adult later. 💪
(Quote via @relaxingmommy)
However you choose to feed your baby, your baby an However you choose to feed your baby, your baby and your opinion are all that matter. If you choose and are able to breastfeed, feed your baby anywhere and everywhere HOWEVER you want to . . . with or without a cover. You have rights, mama. No need to explain or cover yourself for anybody if you don't want to. 💕⁠
📷: @phoenixandtheocean
5 Things I Wish I Had Known About Potty Training⁠ 🚽⁠
.⁠
Let’s talk about potty training! It’s one of those monumental milestones we mamas walk through with our toddlers that make them suddenly seem like they went from babies to tiny little humans overnight. And, while it can be an exciting time (and a time to save some serious cash by ditching diapers), it can also come with lots of stress. 🙃 From cleaning up potty accidents for what may seem like days (or even weeks) to wondering if you’ll ever be able to drive further than down the block without having to stop for a potty break 🤦‍♀️, potty training can be daunting.⁠
⁠
But, what many moms agree on is that once it’s done, you kinda forget about all the stress that came along with it. Kinda like pregnancy and giving birth —you just sort of forget about it all until you do it all over again.⁠ 🤪⁠
⁠
Here are five things I wish I had known about potty training before I jumped into it with my then two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Because, if I had known these things, I think I would have been a bit more laid back about the whole thing! {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: Rebecca Jacobs⁠
📷: @reesetriplets
How Much Does IVF Cost?⁠ 💉⁠ .⁠ In the Uni How Much Does IVF Cost?⁠ 💉⁠
.⁠
In the United States, 16.2% of married women aged 15-49 struggle with infertility. It is no surprise, then, that fertility treatments are becoming more of a necessity for couples who are faced with infertility and wish to have children. While there are many types of fertility treatments, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is one of the most commonly known options. However, the high cost of IVF is often cited as the primary obstacle to undergoing treatment. 💸 Let's take a look at what IVF entails, and how much IVF costs. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!⁠}⁠
.⁠
Article by: @kristen_vhmiddleton⁠
📷: @lizbrownfitness
She isn't as cheerful as usual? She is being a bit She isn't as cheerful as usual? She is being a bit short with her replies back? Don't be hard on her. It more than likely has nothing to do with you. You never how many times her kids got her up last night. 😴 #bekindalways
🖌: @growupbrite