Only then can you bring your baby into the world.
Cervical dilation sounds pretty intense, but if you are in labor, it’s going to happen. The question is, how do you know if you’re dilated and ready to deliver your baby?
The cervix is a magical structure, able to stay thick and strong, and then practically melt away, allowing the passage of the baby from the uterus, through the vaginal canal, and out into the world. But to do that, it has to open up first.
“In labor, a woman cannot tell how dilated she is, unless she dons gloves and starts checking her cervix, so as to see when to head to the hospital,” says Felice Gersh, M.D., OB/GYN, and author of PCOS SOS. But if a woman doesn’t quite have the resources to check herself, are there other methods to see if cervix dilation is occurring?
Yes. And the cervix can be checked in different ways to see if it’s dilated.
“The terrible pain of labor is connected with the dilation of the cervix. Once a woman is fully dilated to 10 centimeters, the terrible cramping is replaced with severe pressure and the overwhelming sensation to push,” Dr. Gersh says. So when you start feeling contractions, that’s just one of the signs you’re ready to deliver.
2. Internal exam
A doctor can perform an internal exam and figure out pretty quickly how far along the process is. Zero centimeters means the cervix has not dilated at all, and 10 centimeters means the cervix is completely open and the baby is ready to deliver.
According to Dr. Sherry Ross, author of She-ology, “An internal pelvic exam uses two fingers by the doctor, nurse or midwife to check and feel how many centimeters the cervix is opened or dilated.”
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