Why Your Dilation Doesn’t Matter


Labour progress is almost always measured by how dilated someone is. A ready to birth Mama is 10cm dilated…but this number only tells us exactly where she is at in that moment. Dilation can change very quickly or very slowly. A 10cm dilation doesn’t necessarily mean the birth is near – pushing at times, can take another 3 or so hours. Alternatively, someone can be 4cm dilated and within the hour have her baby out. The thought that the higher the dilation number is equivalent to less remaining time in labour is not always true. In fact, it’s often false!

So as you prepare for your labour and birth process, do you want to know the numbers? Would you feel disappointed after labouring for hours and hearing a small number? Might the idea of knowing distract you from your focus? It might help you to know that dilation is checked vaginally. As in, during your labour, your doctor or midwife will insert their fingers and feel around to guess how many centimetres your cervix has opened. Might this take you out of your coping techniques? 

Know that you can always say no! Also know that you can ask your caregiver to teach you how to check your own dilation. And if you don’t want to know the numbers and aren’t okay with vaginal checks, see this brilliant post for other techniques.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t get so caught up on dilation and due dates (and so much more in regards to labor progress) unless its a medical necessity. A medical necessity means you or your babys life is at stake. Your body knows when and how to do what it does. Trust your body and don’t rush it! Rushing your labor when your body is fine otherwise can only make things worse.


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