As you approach labour, your cervix will dilate -- a good indication that the baby is ready to be born. The time it takes for the cervix to dilate from 1cm to 10 cm varies: not all mums take the same time. Some mums take hours – even days! – for their cervix to fully dilate. Dilation entirely depends on the mum’s body condition and the body’s ability to widen, creating an opening so that baby can be born. In this article, we've included a cervical dilation chart so that you'll know what to expect before delivery.
What happens when the cervix dilates from 1cm to 10cm: A cervical dilation chart
A dilation of 1 cm means you'll need to head to hospital soon
The first sign of your cervix dilating during delivery is when your water breaks.
Your gynaecologist will be able to tell you when dilation starts. A cervical dilation of 1cm means your body is ready to give birth, but it doesn’t mean you will enter labour immediately.
When a pregnant mum's cervix is 1cm dilated, there may be no further dilation for weeks.
Dr. Robert Atlas, an obstetrician and gynaecologist from Mercy Medical Center in the USA, says that each patient is different. During childbirth, cervical dilation can take longer if you’re pregnant with your first child. That’s because your body needs to adapt to the initial stages of labour, mums.
Expect some contractions once your cervix dilates to 5cm
When your cervix dilates past 5cm, you will start to feel contractions to help you push the baby out.
Once your cervix dilates to 5cm and you’ve begun feeling contractions, you’ve entered what is known as the initial stage of labour.
According to Dr. Atlas, the initial stage of labour is a sign of the mother preparing to give birth. However, even being dilated by 5cm doesn’t necessarily mean the baby will be born soon.
The good news is that the contractions at this stage tend to vary between mild to moderate, so you can still hold them off. Also, the contractions only happen once every few minutes. Most of the time, you can still be engaged in other activities between contractions, mums!
A cervical dilation of 5cm also indicates that your cervix is becoming longer and softening to facilitate the baby’s passage out of the uterus to the vagina, and finally, being born.
A 6cm dilation means your baby is getting ready for birth!
At 10cm, the baby is ready to be born with the help of the mum’s pushing
The doctor will monitor you closely if your cervix has been dilated beyond 5cm, that is, over 6cm onwards. That’s because at this point, labour becomes more active – so subsequent dilation will happen much faster than before.
You will also feel more intense and painful contractions once the cervix dilates beyond 5cm.
10 cm: PUSH!
A cervical dilation of 10 cm counts as complete dilation. That means the birth canal is completely open, and you can begin to push. Your cervix has elongated and the uterus has contracted fully so that you can give birth to the baby.
The doctor will start instructing you to push. However, if your cervix is fully dilated and the baby still hasn’t been born after some time, doctors will usually intervene to speed up the delivery process. Examples include using forceps, a vacuum, an episiotomy or a C-Section.
Cervical dilation differs for every mum
Mums, Dr. Atlas stresses repeatedly that cervical dilation differs between each mum. So you needn’t worry too much about how dilated your cervix is.
Dr. Atlas himself often encounters patients who experience contractions more frequently but without any dilation at all. And conversely, some mums also experience cervical dilation without contractions at all. There are some who don’t experience dilation nor contractions but are still able to give birth quickly.
If you are currently pregnant and am expecting to deliver soon, relax your mind. Don't stress thinking about cervical dilation and the like. Remember, everyone experiences different levels of dilation, so you also need to be prepared for all the possibilities that can occur during labour later.
We hope this article has been useful, mums!
Reference: American Pregnancy Association
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This article about the cervical dilation chart was translated by Kevin Wijaya Oey and republished with the permission of the theAsianparent Indonesia