What Does Effaced Mean?

Cynthia Flynn's picture
Experts: 

QUESTION

Dear Midwife,
What exactly does effaced mean? I am 37 weeks, dilated to a 3 and 50% effaced. I understand the 3 but have no idea what effaced means. Can you explain in layman's terms?

Thank you,
Tara

ANSWER

As the uterus is pulled up by the muscle at the top of the uterus, the cervix (the neck of the uterus) is shortened (effaced) and opened (dilated). Eventually, the cervix is totally thinned out and when the muscle keeps pulling on it, it just opens more and faster (since it doesn't have to efface any more). Ask your caregiver to show you a picture or show you with a model, it's kinda hard to describe in words.

-- Cynthia, CNM

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