Dilation during Pregnancy

The cervix is the mouth of the uterus; it is the narrow passage that links the uterus to the vagina. On conception, the cervix clamps shut so as to hold the developing baby secure in the uterus.

To further protect the baby, mucus secreted by the cervical glands forms a plug that prevents the entry of infections germs into the uterus. Hence, we see that the cervix plays a crucial role in the success of a pregnancy.


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Cervical dilation in pregnancy plays a major role in the natural process of labor and childbirth, irrespective of whether it is a full term delivery, preterm delivery, miscarriage or abortion. Early dilation in pregnancy is common and is usually caused as a result of an incompetent cervix. In this case, the cervix cannot stay shut because it cannot hold the weight of the uterus and unborn baby any longer. However, complete rest and medical assistance can delay further dilation, but utmost care must be taken to ensure that no infection is passed on to the baby. Regular medical follow-ups are also essential. At times, sowing the mouth of the uterus may become essential for the progress of the pregnancy.

In most cases, cervical dilation in pregnancy occurs naturally. However, at times, inducing dilation may become imperative when the cervix does not dilate on its own. At the onset of dilation, the protective mucus plug is expelled through the vagina in the form of a gooey blob or a thick discharge. The expulsion of the mucus plug is the first dilation in pregnancy symptom. However, many women fail to notice this mucus due to the natural increase in cervical fluid during pregnancy.

When the mucus is blood stained, it is called "bloody show". This blood is not fresh, bright red blood. This is another indicator of dilation of the cervix and may continue all through labor. Abdominal pain and severe cramping are also indicative of the process of cervical dilation as the uterus contracts to dilate the cervix. Effacement or the thinning of the cervix accompanies cervical dilation. Dilation in pregnancy charts can provide a better understanding of this process. The stages of dilation in pregnancy are directly linked with the stages of labor. During the latent phase of labor, the cervix dilates up to 3 centimeters. During the active labor phase, the cervix dilates up to 7 centimeters. The final stage of labor, called the transition phase, sees the cervix dilating up to 10 centimeters. This is the peak phase and shortly after cervical dilation reaches 10 centimeters, the baby is delivered.

Pregnancy And Baby Care
Dilation In Pregnancy
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