Getting to 10

Week by week, the big day approaches. And all that stands between your little one and the world is 10 centimeters, the magic number for dilation. So relax. We're here to help you get ready. Here are a few things to think about before you go into labor.

Prepare to push

Top 10 Things To Know

Your cervix plays the very important role of holding your baby in your womb throughout your pregnancy. As your body begins the labor process, your cervix will go from the thickness of your nose to the thinness of a piece of paper. It will also begin to open up, as you dilate to 10.

Below, you'll find valuable information to help you prepare for delivery. Even if this isn't your first pregnancy, some of this may still surprise you.


The cervix keeps your fetus in, then lets your baby out


During pregnancy, the cervix keeps the baby in your womb by remaining firm. Before labor, it thins (effaces), softens, and opens up (dilates)—a process called cervical ripening—to let the baby out.


Your cervix adjusts for delivery


Near the end of pregnancy, your cervix goes from the thickness of your nose to the thinness of a piece of paper (this is called effacing). While your cervix is softening, most of the time it also begins to dilate.


It can be difficult to predict when you will begin to dilate


All women are different. Sometimes dilation begins weeks before your due date, or it can literally happen overnight. This is one of the reasons why your doctor may keep checking your cervix toward the end of your pregnancy. Talk with your obstetrician (OB) or midwife about what to expect.


Some women feel themselves dilate, others don't


When the early labor stage begins, some women feel a slight pinch, while others feel nothing at all.


1 in 4 women need help dilating


It's fairly common for your cervix not to dilate on its own. Getting your cervix ready is typically the first part of induction. Talk to your OB or midwife before the big day to know your options ahead of time.


Need help getting to 10 cm? There are options


If your labor process doesn't start on its own, it's okay. Your doctor may suggest options to help your body along, like vaginal insert, pill or catheter. Some are not FDA approved so discuss your options with your doctor or midwife and tell them what you prefer.


Cervical ripening doesn't necessarily cause contractions


Readying your cervix (cervical ripening) is the first part of induction and does not necessarily cause contractions. However, your doctor may give you something else to start contractions (second part of induction).


Staying active during pregnancy can help


While no one way works for everyone in terms of dilating on your own, being active and healthy can improve your chances of getting your body ready for labor.


Induction doesn't necessarily lead to C-sections


There is a lot of information available on this topic. Some factors may increase your chances of a C-section whether or not you're induced (such as the size of your baby, advanced maternal age, your weight, or if you are overdue). Talk to your doctor or midwife if you have any concerns.


A birth plan is


When it comes to delivering the most important package you've ever carried, you have a lot of choices. Fill out the birth plan on to set preferences that'll ensure you're prepared for anything and everything on the big day.

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At 1 cm, you're not in labor yet. That's about the size of the little hole that's made when you curl your forefinger into your thumb.


Strong contractions dilate you from 4 cm, like you're saying “OK” with your hand.


Six centimeters is like making a much wider "OK" symbol with your thumb and forefinger. Contractions may last 60 to 90 seconds.


At 8 cm, you may feel the urge to push, but wait until you get to 10. This is hard to do, we know.


You're fully dilated—imagine touching fingertip to fingertip with both hands. Push mama, push!

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