Do you Dilate Before Effacing?

QUESTION

Dear Midwife,
I am 32 weeks pregnant and I saw my OB a few days ago. I had been having vaginal and rectal pressure so she did an exam. She said that I was 70% effaced but not dilated. I always heard that you dilated first. Can you tell me if this is any indicator that I will go into labor sometime soon?

ANSWER

Nope, most first-timers and many other pregnant women efface before they dilate. And since women's cervixes come in many lengths, it is hard to say whether someone is 30% effaced or just has a slightly short cervix. In other words, I wouldn't worry, sounds ok so far.

-- Cynthia, CNM

Cynthia Flynn

Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.