What does being 1 or 2cm dilated mean? As you reach your ninth month of pregnancy in your final trimester, your doctor will give you an internal exam to check your cervix for any early signs of labour (e.g. if you’re dilated). She will also see if your baby’s head is engaged during this check-up.
After confirming whether your cervix has dilated (opened up) and effaced (thinned out) and if it has started to soften and move to the front of the vagina, she might be able to give you an estimated date as to when you can expect to deliver.
But how dilated do you have to be, and what does it mean if you are 1cm or 2cm dilated?
If you touch the tip of your nose, that is similar to how your cervix feels before labour.
It is usually slightly firm and closed to protect your growing baby from the outside world.
But as your body prepares for labour, your cervix will get very soft, dilate, and thins out (otherwise known as cervical effacement).
So before your baby can make her grand debut, your cervix must be completely dilated and thinned out.
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Not only does your cervix have to be open all the way, but it also needs to thin out entirely for your baby to be born.
Your hard and long cervix will gradually thin out as your labour progresses.
Cervical effacement is measured in percentage, so when your cervix is 100 per cent effaced, it is thin enough (paper thin, in fact!) for your bub to easily pass through.
Be patient because your cervix can be dilated for weeks before you even go into labour
1cm Or 2cm Dilated: Is It A Sign That You’re Going Into Labour?
You might think that being at least 1cm dilated means that you’ll be giving birth sometime soon, but this is not usually the case.
Cervix dilation does not indicate when exactly you will go into labour or how fast your labour will be. You can dilate a few centimetres for a few weeks before going into labour!
However, even if your cervix is completely closed, you could go into labour the same day because every woman’s body is different, and each pregnancy is unique.
When your cervix is 10cm dilated, it is the same size as a bagel!
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How Long Does It Take To Dilate From 1 to 10
Dilating from 1 to 10 is a process that can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours. Most women dilate at a rate of 1 centimetre (cm) per hour, which means that if you start with a cervix that measures 2 cm, it will take you about 2 hours to dilate to 4 cm. Once you get to 4 cm, it will take another 2 hours to get to 6 cm. And so on.
Many factors can affect how quickly or slowly your body dilates—your age, how much experience you’ve had giving birth in the past, how many babies you’ve given birth to before this point, whether or not this is your first pregnancy… and more!
That said: If you have a vaginal birth (as opposed to a c-section), you should be able to expect that there will be some pain involved in the process of dilation, though it shouldn’t be too severe.
Your cervix is the size of a single Cheerio, and you can have your hospital bag on standby because your body is getting ready to give birth.
By now, your cervix is about the same size as a Ritz cracker — but if this is your first pregnancy, it might take you a little longer to go through the early stages of labour.
Would you believe your cervix is now around the same diameter as a soda can?
“Active labour” would have started by now, causing your cervix to dilate faster, so your contractions will be stronger, longer, more regular and painful!
Once you are 10cm dilated, your cervix is considered fully open and is the same size as a bagel!
Your OB might even tell you to prepare yourself to start pushing as soon as your cervix has wholly effaced.
Some women suggest that it helps to visualise your cervix opening up like a flower in bloom.
How To Get Your Cervix Dilated
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Although it’s probably best to just let your body do its own thing naturally, there are a few steps you can take to encourage your cervix to dilate a bit faster:
It’s good to stay calm, think positively and visualise your cervix opening up as you repeat the following affirming message to yourself:
“My cervix is opening, like a flower. My pelvis is flexible and open. My muscles are warm, heavy, and relaxed.”
A nice warm shower will help your tense muscles relax and ease tension as your body prepares itself for labour.
You can also choose to soak for a while in a warm bath. Just make sure someone is there to help you get in and out of the tub.
Ask your partner to give you a gentle massage, as this is another way to help you relax, which is beneficial to the whole process of cervical dilation.
You can sit down or lie comfortably on your side and play soft music in the background to further add to the relaxing mood.
Since your partner is already giving you massage anyway, you might want to try having sexual intercourse, as the hormones found in semen (prostaglandins) can help your cervix to dilate and efface!
After you have an orgasm or stimulate your nipples, your body will release oxytocin, which is another hormone that helps to encourage cervical dilation.
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Going up and down some stairs by taking long and slow strides can help with cervix dilation. Walking wider and slower than normal causes your cervix to stretch and eventually dilate.
A full bladder could inhibit contractions, so there will be less pressure on your cervix, resulting in a slower dilation.
So although it’s good to stay hydrated, remember to urinate regularly to help speed things along!
You don’t have to go to a Zumba class or have an intense workout to jiggle your baby out — by walking around as much as you can, your bub will gradually move down into your birth canal, thanks to all your body movement and gravity.
The pressure from your little one’s head pressing down on your cervix may also help dilation and effacement, which can trigger contractions that further encourage dilation.
Don’t let the numbers worry you, and try not to get too hung over how dilated you are.
There is a possibility that even if you are having a lot of contractions, you may not even be dilated yet — or although you may not be having that many contractions yet, your cervix could already be dilating!
Just let your body do its own thing and try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible to prepare yourself for delivery that’s probably just around the corner.
Reasons for Cervix Not Dilating
There are many reasons why your cervix may not be dilating. Here are some of the most common:
- You’re not actively trying to progress your labour.
- Your baby isn’t ready to be born yet or is experiencing complications preventing them from moving down the birth canal.
- You have an infection or other medical condition preventing your cervix from dilating.
As mentioned earlier, each pregnancy is unique, and you don’t know how fast or how slow your cervix will dilate leading to your baby’s birth. But if you think you are experiencing the signs of labour, do not hesitate to contact your doctor right away.
Image Source: iStock
Updates by Pheona Ilagan
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