1. What is effacement in pregnancy?
As you get close to the end of gestation, your cervix starts to develop some changes in its structure (hardness and length). This process is called effacement. When women are not pregnant, the cervix is firm and feels like touching the point of your nose. In pregnant women, the cervix starts to feel softer and shorter, like a dimple. As time passes and labour gets closer and closer, the cervix will change its position to an anterior one.
2. When does effacement start?
These changes in the cervix can happen weeks before labour starts or just hours before. This can vary from woman to woman, but first time Mums will dilate after effacement, and women with previous pregnancies will dilate before or during effacement.
3. How is effacement measured?
Your physician or midwife will carry out a vaginal examination, inserting two fingers in it to reach the cervix. Its length will get shorter and shorter, until it seems to disappear. The measurement of effacement is calculated as a percentage.
4. What causes effacement?
A hormone called prostaglandin is what triggers effacement to occur. Near the end of gestation, the levels of this hormone begin to rise, acting in the cervix, preparing the uterus and the body for childbirth.
5.What happens after effacement?
At some point, uterine contractions will start, dilating more and more the cervix, allowing enough space for your baby to be born.
6. What can I do if I am not effacing?
There are some activities that you can do to prepare your cervix for labour. Sex is one of them: as sperm contains big quantities of prostaglandins that can help your cervix reduce its length.
Evening primrose oil (EPO) is used by many midwives as an effacement promoting agent. The human body turns the substance found in EPO to prostaglandins. You can take it orally or by placing it inside your vagina, near the cervix.
Maintaining a good posture during some activities that encourages the baby to move to its birth position in the pelvis will help you in the process. Massages, sitting upright and walking are among the most used ones.