The opening and the thinning of the cervix occur in the last stage of pregnancy is called dilation. Dilation means that your cervix is getting ready for delivery. The opening of the cervix is measured in centimeters, whereas the thinning of the cervix is measured in percentage. So when will you start this process?
When Do You Start Dilating?
The timing of when a pregnant woman dilates may vary greatly. For some women, effacement and dilation happen gradually. The process can take days or even weeks in some cases. However, some women can dilate overnight. Your cervix may begin to dilate even several days before your due date. Your healthcare provider can tell you about the size of dilation by inserting the finger into your vagina and touching the opening of the cervix.
Other Mother's Experiences
"When it comes to dilation, everyone is different. During my first pregnancy, I was at a 1 and 80% effaced at 36 weeks, but then nothing changed until 39 weeks. I was finally induced and had a C-section after 18 hours of labor, as I could not go to 4. I have heard that some women are at a 4 in their 36th week, while others do not dilate at all even after their due date."
"When do you start dilating? It can be different for everyone. I started dilating when I was in week 29, and was at 4 cm until full term. I had a normal delivery on due date without delay. I am now pregnant again and in my 30th week, but I have dilated to 2 cm only."
"I am in my 33rd week now but my cervix started to dilate at 32 weeks. One of my friends was only 2 cm dilated for about three weeks before delivery. I believe it is not the same for everyone, and in most cases, it is all normal."
How Can You Know That You Are Dilating?
As every woman is different, you have to be proactive and take certain steps instead of asking "When do you start dilating?" You can feel your cervix and check if you have already started dilated or not by the following ways.
1. Wash Your Hands Thoroughly
You will have to insert your fingers into your vagina to check the current state of your cervix. Therefore, you should always start by washing your hands to avoid infection. Simply use water and soap to clean your hands and then dry your hands thoroughly as well. You can also use a hand sanitizer, but be sure to opt for the one of at least 60% alcohol. Be sure to clean the surface of your nails as well.
2. Find a Comfortable Position
You need to get into a right position before checking your cervix. A simple solution is to sit on your toilet. Before going any further, you should remove your clothes on your lower half. Sit on the toilet or get in a squatting position on the floor.
3. Insert Your Fingers into Your Vaginal Opening
Start by inserting your index and middle fingers into your vagina to check your cervix. Ensure that the back of your hand is towards your spine and your palm is facing up all the time. To feel your cervix effectively, move your fingers towards your anus, but remove your finger in case of any discomfort.
4. Feel the Cervix
Keep pushing your fingers inside your vagina until you reach your cervix. Some women will have a lower cervix, while others will have a high cervix. Once you have found the cervix, gently touch its surface. Do not try to poke or press it with your fingers because it can cause bleeding. If your one finger can slip into the cervix, you have already started dilating.
Note: You should never put anything inside your vagina, including your finger, once your water breaks. When the amniotic sac bursts, there remains nothing to protect the womb. Therefore, you have to take special care here.
Other Signs of Dilating
When do you start dilating? You can answer this question by checking your cervix with your fingers, but you can consider other indicators if you do not want to do that. One simple solution is to listen to the sound you make during dilation.
- You may not make any noise when you are 0-4 cm dilated. You will be able to talk through contractions.
- You may be making some noise when you are 4-5 cm dilated.
- You are likely to make louder and staccato noises by the time you are 5-7 cm dilated. You will not be able to talk through contractions at this stage.
- You are likely to make very loud noises when you are 7-10 cm dilated.
Sometimes, the method does not work because you are a silent laborer. In this case, it is better to check your cervix by yourself or talk to your doctor for assistance.