Can we just take a moment to appreciate the wonderment that is pregnancy, labor, and childbirth?
A woman's body is truly amazing. To grow another human being – an entire human is nothing short of miraculous, and sometimes women carry more than one if having twins or triplets, or whatever the name given to the number of babies after that.
We often take it for granted as a society – no pointing fingers – but men usually do not comprehend what a woman's body goes through while she is pregnant and then again during labor. As a pregnant woman, your body changes daily, your hormones are changing, and when it comes time to deliver your baby, your body does some amazing stuff.
If you have ever wondered just how a woman's body prepares for childbirth, then keep reading to be truly amazed. And the next time your pregnant wife says she is tired, rub her damn feet and make her a delicious dinner. Because moms truly are superheroes!
A Facebook post is going viral and the woman who posted it captioned, "this is why women deserve all the things." And I second her on this comment.According to The Bump, Steffanie Christi’an re-posted a photo of a wooden dilation chart showing the process of cervical dilation.
Her post was shared over 180,000 times to date.And originally appeared on the Facebook page of the SCV (Santa Clarita Valley) Birth Center.
The SCV Birth Center is an accredited institution that provides personalized maternity and women care for those in the Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope, and San Fernando Valley areas.
via: ShutterstockThe center has licensed midwives that provide instruction on natural birth, waterbirth, and home birth options.
And with that comes showing a woman how her body prepares itself for childbirth.
via: ShutterstockThe center uses a dilation board that clearly shows how a woman's cervix grows from 1 centimeter to 10 centimeters. And it is astounding, to say the least.
And if you have ever wondered yourself, because I know I have, take a gander at this board.
True, women have been giving birth for centuries, but that doesn't take away how extraordinary the process is.And obviously, it takes some time to get to a full 10 centimeters. Every woman is different, but the bottom line is, every woman has to get to 10.
Some women don't experience any contractions when their cervix is dilating.
via: ShutterstockBut the true definition of "active labor" is when your cervix is growing in centimeters. And you will feel it. This is when the cervix has reached 3 centimeters and will continue to expand to 7 centimeters during this phase.
The transition phase then is from 7 to 10 centimeters.
via: ShutterstockAnd then you are in the home stretch! It sounds a lot easier talking about then when you are actually experiencing it. And if you have ever delivered a baby unmedicated, then bravo to you!
Of course, you do have to deliver the placenta after your baby makes her way down the canal, but you are either too tired or too in awe at that point to even notice.
via: ShutterstockThe doctor will usually just massage your stomach and I suppose the placenta just sort of falls out. You don't notice because you are just relieved it is over and intoxicated by your baby that is placed into your arms.
This dilation chart is interesting, but when you are in labor, you have no real idea at what point you are dilated to.
via: ShutterstockI remember it taking forever and the nurse telling me it was time for my epidural, since I chose a medicated birth.
The epidural can only be administered at a certain point.
via: ShutterstockIt is usually given when the mother has reached 4 or 5 centimeters in dilation. So, yes, even if you want painless labor, there will be some pain, in the beginning, to get you to that point.
And don't be surprised if the epidural does not work or only works on one side of your body.
via: ShutterstockThis was the case for me. With my second labor, I felt everything on the left side of my body. Literally everything. I knew exactly when to push.
If you are pregnant now and are reading this, try not to fear labor.You know it is an inevitable part of being pregnant. You have to get the baby out someway. And once it is over, you will forget all you had to endure once you see that beautiful baby.
After all, the world is heavily populated. We all came from somewhere.
via: ShutterstockSo while some may fear becoming a mom because of the physical act of carrying and birthing a baby, it really isn't that scary.
Truth be told, the scarier part is after your baby is born. Because no one really warns you about all that you will experience.And just how much works goes into raising a baby. The 9+ months of carrying a baby inside of you is nothing compared to a lifetime of being a mother.
But, let's focus on one post at a time. And this article is about dilation.
via: ShutterstockYou may wonder what being dilated even means. If you are not sure of the term, dilation is the actual opening of the cervix. To make way for that baby!
Some women may be dilated to 1 centimeter and not even know it.
via: ShutterstockAnd this is why when you get closer to your due date, you have weekly visits with your OB. She will check your cervix to see if dilation has started.
A doctor, nurse, or midwife can check your cervix with their hand.Don't be freaked out, but the number of fingers they can insert into your cervix is how dilation is calculated.
That means 1 finger width is 1 centimeter in dilation.
via: ShutterstockAnd sometimes your doctor may use the term "effaced." That means thinning of the cervix. The cervix has to thin and expand.
And this is why it takes a bit of time. Labor typically lasts for hours, sometimes a full day or so.And not all full-term pregnant women start to dilate.
This is where an induction may take place. If your cervix has not started dilating and you are at your 40th week, your doctor may recommend an induction.
via: ShutterstockAn induction is the inducing of labor. You will be instructed by your doctor to plan a date to be induced. For some women, this is a relief knowing their labor will happen under the care of trained professionals.
I cannot say if it is a myth or not, but I have heard that the first baby is usually the most stubborn to make their exit.
via: ShutterstockI was induced with both of my girls. My first did take about 8 hours longer than my second. So, maybe there is some truth there.
And there are some times when the induction does not work either. For these women, a c-section will be required.
via: ShutterstockBecause that is the only other way a baby can come out! According to the Mayo Clinic, about 75% of mothers deliver vaginally after being induced.
Which means the other 25% have to deliver via c-section.
via: ShutterstockAnd while a c-section does eliminate you from having to dilate and efface, that is not the easy route, ladies.
The recovery period for a c-section delivery is 8 weeks versus a vaginal delivery, which is 6 weeks.
via: ShutterstockAnd you will also have a scar where the incision was. Either way you slice it, labor and delivery is not easy. But women are tough! And so are our bodies.
Our bodies were designed to carry children after all.
via: ShutterstockThis is what makes motherhood such an amazing journey. It starts with becoming pregnant and the amazement does not end.
Here are some good illustrations to see what dilation is equivalent to.
via: ShutterstockAccording to the website, Preg U, dilation at 1 centimeter is equal to the size of a Cheerio!
By the time the cervix dilates to 5 centimeters, that is equivalent to the size of a small lemon.
via: ShutterstockThis picture illustrates the size of your cervix when it is at the halfway point.