What does it mean to be 2 cm dilated and effaced? How can you speed up labor at this point? Cervical dilation is one of the signs you are approaching your due date. But how much longer will you wait before going into labor?
The opening and thinning of the cervix are some of the signs that you are nearing the end of your pregnancy. They are referred to medically as dilation and effacement respectively.
While they are signs of an ending pregnancy, they are not always easy to understand especially when your doctor notes you are 50, 60, 70 or even 80% effaced with a dilated cervix.
What is cervical dilation?
Cervical dilation is the increase in the opening of the cervix as your pregnancy comes close to its end. It is measured in centimeters with the cervix being able to dilate to about 10 centimeters. When 2 cm dilated, you may still be far from labor.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Considering cervical dilation of 6 cm (instead of 4 cm) as the start of active phase labor” can help prevent cesarean delivery.
The process of cervical dilation can occur over several months gradually or in a few days leading to the birth of your baby.
You may not notice this type of change easily unless you do a manual test or have a doctor check it for you.
However, you need not worry since as your pregnancy nears its full term, the doctor will keep checking for any signs of labor to know how close you are to bearing your child. Other signs of labor include;
- Cervical effacement
- You may also have loose joints
- Dropping of the baby to the pelvic region
- Back pain and general cramping
- You will stop gaining weight and instead shed some of it
- Loss of your mucus plug
- Increased fatigue and urge to rest
- The number and intensity of contractions increase
- Breaking water
2 cm dilated; what does it mean?
When your cervix has dilated 2 centimeters, it means that your labor is rear. At such a time, you will likely not have any contractions even if it is your first baby. This may differ in different women though.
Given that, at the end of your labor the cervix can dilate to as much as 10 centimeters (depending on the size of your baby), a dilation of 2 centimeters should not worry you as it is normal.
- In fact, even before labor sets in, the cervix will exhibit expansions and contractions for between 2 to 7 centimeters.
- You cannot exactly know how much the cervix has dilated unless your doctor checks for you with the right equipment.
Always keep in mind that most of the signs and symptoms of labor differ with every woman. What you may feel may not be felt exactly the same way by another woman. For this reason, always keep your doctor close by for the best results.
Meaning of effacement
Cervical effacement refers to the thinning of the walls of the cervix as you near the birth of your baby. As the cervical wall thins out, you will progressively see an increase in the tainting of your cervical discharge or mucus.
This is called a bloody show and is a result of the blood capillaries on the walls of the cervix being raptured due to exposure.
Cervical effacement is the reason you will lose the mucus plug.
Since the mucus plug is strongly attached to the walls of the cervix, the thinning process will provide less and less of an area for the mucus plug to attach itself to. It will thus fall out any time towards the birth of the baby.
Another important point to take note of is that, while cervical dilation is measured in centimeters, cervical effacement is measured in percentages.
The higher the level of effacement and dilation, the closer you are to labor.
Effacement at 36 to 38 weeks, is it normal?
A normal pregnancy will last for a period of 40 to 41 weeks. While you would expect that you have maximum effacement at the very end of the pregnancy, you can also have it as early as the 36th week without any anomalies to your baby.
The level of effacement can be as high as 70 percent by the 38th week yet your baby may not be coming until the 40th week. Such a case, again, is normal.
Effaced at 36 weeks pregnant
At 36 weeks of pregnancy, you are about four weeks from delivery in the case of a 40 week pregnancy. At this stage, most pregnant women are only about 30 percent effaced and 2 to 3 centimeters dilated.
- However, you can have as high a percentage of effacement as 80 yet still have to wait until the right time for the baby.
Unless the levels of effacement and dilation are supported by other signs of labor, you need not worry about the pregnancy. Just make sure your doctor knows about it as you practice patience.
In the 37th week of your pregnancy, you are likely to see a higher level of effacement and dilation than the previous weeks. This is because you will be nearing the birth of your baby.
Dilation may be at 3 centimeters or more with effacement being between 30 to 80 percent. You should know that, from the 37th week, you can have a baby at any time and it’ll be a healthy one.
Both cervical dilation and effacement will be increasing as you tend towards the 40th week. For this reason, you will have an increasingly higher level of effacement and dilation by the 38th week than any week before this time.
The level of dilation may be more than 3 centimeters and the effacement at around 70 percent or more. At times, you may have lower figures than these ones.
The 39th week will have the highest levels of effacement and dilation of the cervix. You will also see a lot of the signs of labor as stated above. If you have been charting your pregnancy correctly, this is a time you should be closely in contact with your doctor as the baby can be due at any time.
Cervical dilation and effacement
Cervical dilation and effacement are two of the major signs of labor your doctor is likely to note as your pregnancy comes to term. Different levels of dilation and effacement mean different things to your pregnancy and your likelihood of going into labor.
2 cm dilated and 50 to 60% effaced
Having 2 centimeters of cervical dilation and between 50 to 60 percent effacement can be experienced about the 38th week of your pregnancy.
You will still be a little far from delivery given that, for labor to occur, you must have 10 centimeters of dilation and 100 percent effacement.
While there are cases when you can have lower levels of effacement and dilation, you should be within a close range of 100% and 10 cm respectively.
2 cm dilated and 70% to 80% effaced
Cervical dilation of 2 centimeters and up to 80 percent effacement still means that you are some days to weeks before your baby is born.
- While the level of effacement is quite high, a cervix that is only dilated by 2 centimeters is a weak sign of labor.
- This combination can occur around the 36th to the 38th week of your pregnancy.
Unless you have an anatomical anomaly, you are expected to go into labor only when the effacement is at 100 percent and the dilation at 10 centimeters.
How much longer will I go into labor when 2 cm dilated?
While being told that your cervix is dilated by 2 centimeters is news that your baby isn’t far off after all, you will still need patience since it isn’t a sign of labor as such.
Your cervix can dilate to 2 centimeters even when you are 36 weeks pregnant yet you may have to wait till the 40th week for your baby.
Be reminded of the fact that your cervix will need to dilate by 10 centimeters before you can go into labor. Therefore, unless you have the other signs of labor, you may be a few weeks away from delivering your baby.
How to speed up labor when 2 cm dilated
You should always leave the process of dilation to take its natural course and time. However, the following conditions may require induced dilation:
- When the water has already broken yet you feel no contractions.
- When you have not had the signs of labor and labor itself two weeks past the calculated due date.
- If your uterus is infected in any way.
- The amount of amniotic fluid around your baby is less than expected.
- The growth of your baby has been erratic.
- In the case that you have experienced placental abruption which is when the placenta is peeled from the wall of the uterus before you have gone into labor.
- When you suffer from any condition that may pose a risk to your baby such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Among the methods used to speed up labor at this time include:
- Membrane sweep: in this method, your doctor will use a finger to swipe against the cervical membranes. If successful, the membranes will trigger the uterus to release prostaglandins which will then induce labor and its signs.
- Prostaglandins: the doctor will administer the prostaglandin hormone directly to your cervix to induce and speed up labor.
- How to Dilate Faster During Labor: Is It Possible? – Healthline
- Signs And Symptoms Of Labor – American Pregnancy
- Complications During Pregnancy and Delivery – Healthline