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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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279 Comments on "Effacement, Dilation and Station"

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3 years 3 months ago

I’m 35.5 weeks just had my dr appt, dr said I’m 2cm dialated, and a -3. Isn’t that kinda contradictory, I’m dialated a little but my daughter hasn’t dropped at all yet.

My dr said I shouldn’t worry bc with my son everything happened within the last six hours or so before I went into labor. But I’m more worried that my s.o won’t have enough time to get home from his business trip, (he’s 8+ hours away depending if he’s on or off shift at the time)

3 years 8 months ago

I am 32 weeks I am hurting in my pelvic and my hips my son is head down and dropped I am 3 cms but my cervix is closed my mucus plug is falling out a little at a time and I have been like this for 3 weeks and my obgyn won’t tell me anything what should I do.

3 years 8 months ago

I am 38+5days now.Baby is in head down position.he engaged and disengaged throughout last two weeks making me frustrated! Dr appt is in 2,days so hopefully she will do an external exam then.

3 years 8 months ago

I am 30 weeks and 3 days my son has been head down for 2 and a half weeks my mucus plug is filling out I think and I am in so much pain but my cervix is closed and I am at 2 and a half finger tips open should I be worried

3 years 9 months ago

I am 34 weeks and 1 day I am dilated to a 3 already, what are some things I can do to keep baby in a little more longer besides bed rest, I have 3 Lil kids and its kinda hard to be on bed rest.

3 years 11 months ago

I went to Dr yesterday on the 17th…I am 35 weeks & 4 days along…as of Monday I am dilated to one cm & my Dr had to push the baby back up some & he said that I am carrying the baby very very low…this is my second pregnancy…& today my lower back has been hurting me on & off and I have felt the baby move down even more.. Thanks in advance for any input no bashing or negative things please..and I have lost my mucus plug also within last few weeks

4 years 27 days ago
Ive been loosi g pieces of my mucus plug, but lost a bunch of it sunday. I went into labor and delivery to get checked out. This is my 4th pregnancy. The nurse said my cervix was too far back for her to check And said that I was 50% effaced. I had my appt friday the 19th and I was told that I was dilated to a fingertip whatever size that is. I’ve been having major back contractions and pelvic contractions. I went to the laundry mat todry clothes and felt my baby twist and drop down more. What… Read more »
4 years 3 months ago

Im 29 weeks pregnet im 2 centemitets dialated , can i still make it to my due date is june 25 with da 2 centemiters open in my cervix ????

4 years 3 months ago
Im in sooo much pain. Iam 40 weeks today (today is my due date) been having painful contractions since early morning yesterday around 3am. Really bad cramping, walked around my house and still no relief just alot of pelvic pressure and back pain and cramping. Went back to sleep when it died down. Woke up around 930 went to use the bathroom and i was bleeding. Went to the hospital after being there for hours they put me on a monitor and told me I was contracting every 4 to 5 mins. But then I was checked and saw that… Read more »
4 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
4 years 8 months ago

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 years 9 months ago

[…] 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 years 3 months ago

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!!

5 years 10 months ago

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.

6 years 21 days ago

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.

6 years 1 month ago

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

6 years 3 months ago

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

6 years 3 months ago

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

6 years 4 months ago

@ 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.

6 years 6 months ago

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…

6 years 7 months ago

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..

6 years 8 months ago

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.

6 years 9 months ago

@ 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

6 years 10 months ago

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???

7 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
7 years 4 months ago

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….

7 years 4 months ago

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..

7 years 4 months ago

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..

7 years 5 months ago
[…] “Dilation” refers to opening and widening of your cervix so that your baby can pass through your birth canal. “Station” refers to how far your baby’s head has descended down into your pelvis. .. “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.” (via… Read more »
7 years 6 months ago

You really make it appear so easy with your presentation however I to find this topic to be actually one thing which I believe I’d never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward on your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

Mommy to be
7 years 9 months ago

I am 38 weeks pregnant. At my 37 weeks 4 day appointment I was dilated 1 to 2, 50% effaced & at -2, and I still have strong lower back pain and menstrual like cramps in my lower abdoman. I understand what everything means, I just want to meet this little boy so bad and have 0 patience. I guess it’s best for him to bake as long as he can, however, I hurt so bad and I am so miserable. What’s the chances of me going into labor soon?

7 years 9 months ago

hi my name is jessica im 38 weeks tomorrow i was just in the hospital for labor last night i am in labor i dilated 2 cent in 3 hrs yesterday so now im 4 cent dilated and 70% effaced but they sent me home cause i have not progressed since last night im still contracting and all that good stuff if anyone has any advice id sure appreciate it.

thanks jessica

7 years 10 months ago

Today I am 40 weeks and 3 cm dilated with 75% effacement. This is my first pregnancy and all I can say is that I understand the anxiety. I have an appt tomarrow and hopefully I will hear some good news. Patience is just a virtue I don’t have. I am tired of these backaches and Braxton-Hicks I have been feeling. Tylenol is just not cutting it anymore! I love my little boy I just wish I could see him sooner

[…] Effacement, Dilation and Station | Pregnancy | Baby, Pregnancy … Dilation Until you are late in your third trimester, your cervix should stay tight and closed with no dilation. … […]

7 years 11 months ago
Rebekah, I can deff. understand how you feel. I have wanted to do this natually (no induction, drugs, etc). At 36 weeks I was 4 cm. Two weeks later I was 4 cm, 90% effaced and at a +1. I am now at 40 weeks almost 5 cm, 100% effaced and almost at a +2, and hardly any contraction. Isn’t it amazing how every person has a different experience. The doctor has offered to induce me for a few weeks but has been happy to let me try to do this naturally. However, at my last appt. he told me… Read more »
8 years 7 days ago

i am 3 cm dialated and 50 % effaced not sure for station they didnt say but i am 39wkks due on july 19th i am so ready for this lil boy to be born my first son was born at 36 wks and 5 days i have been trying ways at home to get him to come but its not working since June 30th i have been having contractions that are close to gether but the doctors keep sending me home and since friday july 8th i have been having them none stop

8 years 13 days ago

Hi everyone im 41+5, had my first sweep at 40+4 nothing happend no pain no contractions since, midwife told me i was 5cm and 50% effaced, swore that i would of had my baby by tomorrow ( my next app ) but no sign of him !! wondering what will happen next ?? ive been advised either another sweep or induction, fed up and scared to say the least ! excited to be a mammy though !

[…] At my 40-week appointment I was one day past my due date, still 4 cm and Simon had dropped into 0 station. My OB, Dr. Jenny, said she couldn’t believe I was not in labor. I was basically in early […]

8 years 1 month ago

2/5 or 4/5 is a measurement of lightening. It means that when she palpated your abdoment that either 2/5 or 4/5 of the baby’s head could be felt. You can see a diagram at the bottom of this website. The smaller the fraction, the lower the baby is in the pelvic region.

8 years 2 months ago

i went to see my midwife on monday 16th and she said i was 2/5 and that evevning i was getting pain so was admitted to hospital when they said i was contracting but not the real thing and in my notes she put i was 4/5 what does all this mean. thank you

8 years 2 months ago

what does it mean when you haven’t dilated but 1 1/2 since last Friday but you can fill the baby’s head

8 years 2 months ago

I m 40wks 3 days today. I am getting impatient and this is my first baby. At least for this first experience i want to have my baby naturally not induced. I am really worried, can’t wait to see my handsome baby, lol. Wish you all luck!

8 years 2 months ago
my daughter was born at 33 weeks and 4 days, luckily for me she was a gd size. my waters broke and i had lost to much fluids so i was induced, she wasnt ready to come and went into featal distress. she was born stillborn but was able to b resused, unfortunately because of her gestation she was born with no sucking reflexes and had to learn to suckle, she was able to come home at 11 days old, today she is 4 and a half yrs old and thriving, my son was born at 38 weeks and 2… Read more »
8 years 3 months ago
I am 37 weeks pregnant. I was 3cm 75% and -1 at my 36 week checkup. I started having very intense contractions on Monday and I went into the doctor office, who had me on the NST for 1 1/2 hrs and then decided to send me to the hospital because she thought I was in labor. After being in the hospital for 2 hrs they sent me home. For the past 2 days I’ve had awful contractions and when I saw the doc again today, nothing had changed. My contractions are so strong I feel like I’m on pitocin.… Read more »

[…] appointment. The midwife said the only way to tell what was going on was to see if she was dilating or not. It is good that she was not dilating because that would mean the possibility of an early […]

8 years 3 months ago

I am 36wks and 4 days with our 2nd child. I had my appt yesterday and the dr said I was 2 1/2cm and 50% effaced. They have stopped my labor twice now. He did say that when I go into labor it will be very fast so I need to be prepared. That is a concern living out in the country and 30 miles from the hospital!

8 years 3 months ago
I’m a first time mom. I went to the doctor 2 weeks ago and i was already 3.5cm, 80%, +1 at 36 weeks gestation without any contractions. The doctor said i will deliver the baby within that week but she’s wrong. I went to the doctor again 3 days ago for my 38weeks and 5 days appointment., she did another pelvic exam and i’m already 5cm, 80%, +1 without any contractions or cramps. No bloody show, no PROM. The doctor told me that i will deliver within 24-48hrs. We’ve been waiting wihen its gonna happen.Its already 72 hrs and until… Read more »
8 years 4 months ago
hi ladies.. im currently 32 weeks with fraternal twin girls!.. was in the hospital last night due to contractions being 8-10 mins apart for 3 days straight!.. the dr said everything is fine and its just braxton hicks because my uterus is measuring 40+ weeks for singleton pregnancy… but she checked my cervix and said she could get one finger in but not all the way through.. i dont know what this means? any insight?… these are my first babies and my last due to endometriosis and i have to have a hysterctomy once they are born.. i lost my… Read more »
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