Baby, Pregnancy, and Parenting Information

Effacement, Dilation and Station


Around your 37th week of pregnancy your doctor or midwife will begin checking your cervix for effacement, dilation and station.  Many first time as well as seasoned moms aren’t sure what this means. If reports of “one centimeter, 25%, -2″ leave you feeling dazed and confused, this explanation of effacement, dilation and station will keep you in the know at your next check up.


Prior to pregnancy and into much of the third trimester your cervix is long and thick.  As labor nears it begins to shorten and thin out.  This action is referred to as effacement.

Effacement is generally measured in percentages by doctors and midwives. When you have an exam your provider will tell you that it is anywhere from 0% (not effaced at all) to 100% (completely effaced and thin). When your cervix is completely effaced it becomes part of the uterine wall and your mucus plug is released, allowing the baby to pass through.


Your cervix should stay tight and closed with no dilation until late into your third trimester.  This keeps bacteria away from your precious cargo.  As you get closer to delivery the mouth of the cervix opens and widens, allowing your baby to pass through.  This is measured in centimeters. For most of your pregnancy it should be 0 centimeters, opening to 10 centimeters when it’s time deliver. As the cervix dilates, some people describe cramping and pressure, similar to what you would feel during menstruation.  Yay for labor pains!

If you begin dilating in the second trimester or at a rapid rate before the last month of your pregnancy it can be a sign of premature labor. If this is the case your doctor or midwife will advise you on what to do.


When your provider tells you about your baby’s station, she is referring to how far down your baby’s head has come into your pelvis. If your baby has dropped, but has not yet settled into your pelvis to begin his or her decent, it is measured in centimeters as a negative station. This negative measurement goes from -3 to -1. Once your baby has settled into your pelvis, but before he starts his descent to the birth canal, it is referred to as a zero (0) station. Once your baby starts heading towards the cervix, it is referred to as a positive station from 1 to 3. During this time it is likely that you will feel an increase of pressure and pain in your pelvic bone and vaginal area.  Yay again for labor!

It’s good for a mom-to-be to know where her baby is positioned and how her body is cooperating in the weeks leading up to delivery. Some doctors will check  but not relay this information unless you ask. If you aren’t told, or if you are not offered a cervical check, don’t be shy … ask away!

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270 Responses to “Effacement, Dilation and Station”

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  1. 270
    Catherine Says:

    To Ashley, even though it’s been a while since you posted, and any other mom getting induced: unless there is a medical problem or parental request, being induced at 39 weeks is a baaaad idea. First time moms often don’t give birth till a week or two past their due date. All that prep your body is doing now to dilate and efface is a lot easier now than doing it in active labor. I know this from personal experience, being induced for my first at a dilation of 1, and then for my second (not induced), I was dilated to a 5 easily with no work before labor. The induction was massively more painful and took forever to get to a 5, where I got to easily the second time around.

    If you aren’t getting an induction this early for medical or personal reasons, I would seriously question the motives of your OB. She prob just doesn’t want to deal with a weekend labor, and is putting that desire ahead of you and the baby’s well-being.
    Avoid inductions when possible, and let your body get much of the work done easily before labor even begins.

  2. 269
    3 Centimeters 50 Effaced | ShellaMedia Says:

    […] […]

  3. 268
    Olivia Says:

    I was sent in for preterm labor at 33 weeks 5 days. They were able to stop the labor after 2 days of magnesium but I was dilated to 4cm when I was last checked. I forgot to ask my Dr If since they were able to stop my labor of my cervix closes or does it stay at the 4cm?

  4. 267
    Still Waiting | Mummy to Be Says:

    […] only 10% effaced.  If you have no clue about dilation, station and effacement, check out this website.  The teacher in our Lamaze class mentioned dilation and station, but dilation, station and […]

  5. 266
    Edie Says:

    My daughter is 95% effaced and 4 cm for the last 10 days . She isn’t due for another 10 but it would be ok if she did go into labor now! She is also 0 station. Baby is getting ready! I have a feeling when she actually goes into labor it will be fast! But who knows ? Each labor is different!!

  6. 265
    Shawna Says:

    im 38w5d as of today and just seen the doc. i am 5 cm , 75% effaced and at a +1 station.. I have lots of contractions but nothing regular or painful. I have occasional cramps and back pain, im hoping if i stay active ill go into labor soon.

  7. 264
    grandma Says:

    my daughter is 36 weeks and is 1-2 dialated 0% effaced will she go 4 weeks more 1st child. I’ve had 4 children and I was a slow dialater. my water would break and I still would only be 3-4 dialated . I’m glad she’s getting work done, but is it to soon.

  8. 263
    Idagrace Says:

    Iam 60% effaced, 1 cm dilated, and +1 station
    That mean he is coming soon?
    Iam 34weeks along.

  9. 262
    betty harper Says:

    i just went to the doctor and i thought i was pregrant and he told no i wasnt but he said my cervix was thick and i had some scarring on my womb and he told me i was fixing to go threw memopause ok my question is what does it mean when your cervix is thick and i went for a papsmear i am just wondering becasue i stomach is bloated and my breasts are sore pleaase tell me what is going on

  10. 261
    Ashley Says:

    So today I went and saw my doc I’m 39weeks and one day pregant and I’m one cenmeters dilated and she said that I’m 80 percent and my cervix is thinned out and she said that I’m going to get induced on Friday if I don’t have her on Thursday the 18 she will induce me on Friday moring what’s this mean

  11. 260
    Cmel Says:

    @ qaseem:

    You have your stages of labor mixed up. Stages of labor are as follows:

    1st stage of labor begins with contractions AND cervical dilatation. 1st stage of labor continues until FULL cervical dilatation (10 cm).

    2nd stage of labor is from FULL cervical dilatation to delivery of the baby.

    3rd stage of labor is from delivery of baby to delivery of placenta.

  12. 259
    qaseem Says:

    kerry dilatation and effacement are different though related..dilatation comes aftr full effacement…actually dilatation is an indication of true labor where the 1st stage of labor is from dilatation from 0cm to 4 cm…and second stage of labor is from 4cm to full dilatation..which is 10cm…dilatation is just the widening of the cervix… in, its diameter…

  13. 258
    Kerry Says:

    Hi all. Can anyone help? I had a sweep 3 days ago and was told im100% effaced does that mean I’m dilated? Plus had a lot of pain on and off since nothing is sticking though..

  14. 257
    ragan Says:

    Im 40 weeks n two days and the only thing I have got is back ache and stomach pains but when will I go into labour? its my first pregnancy so I hope im not waiting too long. I have eaten a realllllyyy hot curry, tried sex a few times a day and hot baths but I just cant seem to bring the labour on.. if anyone has any advice for me. Please let me know because it is getting me down now.

  15. 256
    Jaime Says:

    @ michele

    with this being your third child you could remain the same for a couple more wks and than again you go into active labor tomorrow it really all depends on how active you are gravity is your best friend right now to move the child into the pelvis to be able to completely eface and dilate. take your other children to the park and pertake on the fun swing your heart out as this has alot to do with gravity and will push him down also if you can go for a swim.

    good luck congrats

  16. 255
    michelle Says:

    I am 36 weeks and 6 days today. Monday I was 3 centimeters dialated and 75% effaced. Which on last Thursday I was 1 1/2 centimeters dialated n 50% effaced so I also lost my mucus plug then too dose that mean my 3rd baby is comming soon???

  17. 254
    kimberlee Says:

    i am now 37weeks and 1day. last wednesday i was 1cm dilated and have been since the wednesday before last. all my doctor has told me was that i was thin and nothing more. i havent had contractions,that ive noticed. but i often feel like i am about to bust but when i go to the restroom i only have a few drips come out and they are usually clear… i have been told that it is possible for your water to leak…..should i be concerned? and when your water leaks how does it feel and does it have a distinct look or smell that i would notice?

    i also have back problems already and often have pains…. would it be possible for me to have back labor and not know it?

  18. 253
    Tonya Says:

    Sorry I’ve been looking every where to try and figure out what the Midwife told me and what it means. Im 37wks today. When my Midwife checked me she said I was stationed at a 0 and I’m in between 2-3cms dialated and 60% effaced. Last time she checked me I was 1-2cms 50% effaced and the baby was stationed at -1 and that was a week and a half a ago. Does this mean labor is coming soon? With my son I didn’t do anything until I went into labor so I’m not sure what all of this means….

  19. 252
    Amanda Says:

    i am 39 weeks today the babys head is all the way down im 1cm dialated and 90% thinned out. But i dont understand when my cervix is 100% thinned out is that when i will go into labor? Please help..

  20. 251
    hedy Says:

    to:250 quanisha,

    I know castor oil can be bad for your baby, If you r having the fever, head ace and nausea r signs to call your doctor. after having 3 kids and one almost here, I can tell you what has helped me has been to squat.. and relax the body when ever i have a braxton hick or contraction holding on to someone’s neck to let loose, this really helps dialate. Please be careful with what people tell u to drink or take..

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