Your cervix during labour

Your cervix and its changes during labour - softening, dilation, effacement

What is cervical ripening

The cervix is deep inside your vagina and is opening to your womb. The cervix should be firm, long and closed tightly until you are near the end of your pregnancy or going into labour.

As you come near to your due date, your cervix may begin to soften, shorten and could even begin to open slightly. Sometimes your clinician may use other words – such as dilation or effacement, these simply mean shortening and opening of your cervix, as it is getting ready for your baby to be delivered.

It is important to remember that this process does not happen to all women before labour naturally, therefore sometimes help called “cervical ripening", followed by induction of labour is needed. 

Stages of labour & the cervix



Labour has three stages and in those, also your cervix changes.

The stages are called:

early labour

active labour


During this time your cervix will constantly change until it is opened for 10 cm - also called fully dilated, at which time you will begin to push to deliver your baby.

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