Friday, December 12, 2008

Dilation, Effacement, and Station ... Oh My!

Before getting pregnant, the only times I heard things like, "She's 5cm dilated!" was if I was watching 'ER' or 'A Baby Story'. I really had no clue what exactly dilation, effacement, and station meant ... just that it was something that happened when you were in labor.

Well, after checking out nearly every book about pregnancy from the library, I finally learned what those three little words actually referred to. Now it's time to pass my knowledge on ... that way when I start talking about it more ('cause we're close to the end now, folks), you'll have an idea of what I mean! =D

For some reason, I picture my cervix kind of looking like one of those icing tubes that bakers use to decorate cakes. At the bottom is the small opening where you attach the nozzle and squeeze the icing out into pretty flowers or swirly shapes. But, if that icing tube was a cervix, the opening at the bottom would start to get bigger and thin out and you'd end up with an 8 lb blob of icing on your cake ...I mean, an 8 lb baby in your arms!! =D

Dilation is the process of the mouth of the cervix opening and widening, which allows your baby to pass through. This is measured in centimeters. For most of a pregnancy it should be 0 centimeters. In order to deliver a baby the cervix needs to stretch open to 10 centimeters.

Effacement is the shortening, or thinning, of the cervix before or during early labor. Prior to effacement, the cervix is like a long bottleneck, usually about four centimeters in length. As effacement takes place, the cervix then shortens, or effaces, pulling up into the uterus and becoming part of the lower uterine wall. Effacement may be measured in percentages, from zero percent (not effaced at all) to 100 percent, which indicates a paper-thin cervix.

And, lastly, station is how far down the baby's head has come into the pelvis. If the baby has dropped, but has not yet settled into the pelvis to begin his decent, it is measured in centimeters as a negative station. This negative measurement goes from -3 to -1. Once the baby has settled into the pelvis, but before he starts his descent to the birth canal, it is referred to as a zero (0) station. Once the baby starts heading towards the cervix, it is referred to as a positive station from 1 to 3.

So, aside from informing the masses, there really was a point to all this preggo-speak. I went to my doctor yesterday and she checked me for the first time. It definitely hurt and was uncomfortable, but she did say that she was purposefully picking a fight with my cervix and that it shouldn't be as bad the next time she does it.

According to Dr. Gina's measurements, I am a fingertip width dilated and 50% effaced. That means that something's been going on down there ... and I'm glad for it! =D Does it mean that Baby Ohz will be here this weekend? Probably not. Most first time moms deliver *after* their expected due dates ... so I foresee a January birth (tho I'm definitely not hoping for one! lol).

From now on, I see Dr. Gina each week until I give birth. She has given me the option to be checked or not based on if I'm stripped from the waist down or still fully dressed when she comes in the room. =D No matter how painful or uncomfortable having her shove her fingers up there may be, I'm way too curious to pass up the opportunity to know how my body is progressing!!

So, next week when I post my 'stats', you will all be fully knowledgeable of what exactly I'm talking about ... that is, if you took the time to read thru all that! lol

No comments: