The cervical plug that developed in the beginning of the pregnancy will fall out at the end of the third trimester. Once the plug has washed out of the body, the cervix will start preparing for birth. This is called cervical dilation and effacement.
Causes of Cervical Dilation and Effacement
Nearly every pregnant woman will go through the process of cervical dilation and effacement. This natural process is measured in percentages and centimeters. The cervix must open and thin out before birth can occur. The larger the cervix opens the more centimeters the woman will measure. The thinner the cervix becomes the higher percentage of effacement. On average, a woman’s cervix is 10 centimeters and she is 100% effaced when she gives is told to push.
Important Facts About Cervical Dilation and Effacement
While the process of cervical dilation and effacement is natural, each woman will progress at their own pace. Some women will begin dilation and complete the process into the final stages of labor in 24 hours. Other women can take weeks to completely dilate and efface. If the pregnancy is past 40 weeks of gestation or the mother/baby is in danger, the doctor may choose to induce labor to speed up the process.
Treatment for Cervical Dilation and Effacement
There is nothing you can do to make the process of cervical dilation and effacement occur more quickly. Mother Nature will work the process as best she can and if there is a necessity for a faster process, medical attention will be required. There is some evidence that semen can help to thin out the cervix which is why sex in the final days of pregnancy is often advised.