Cervical Changes in Pregnancyby Jerri Colonero, RN, BS
Q. I read that softening of the cervix occurs during pregnancy. My question is, how early in the pregnancy does this occur?
A. During pregnancy the cervix is long, thick, firm, and closed. This is necessary to support the growing uterus and baby. For your first pregnancy, during the last month, the cervix begins to soften and then thin out. This is your body's way of preparing for your first labor. (Your cervix has never opened before, therefore, your body knows exactly what needs to be done.The cervix must soften before it can thin out and finally open.)
For first pregnancies, the cervix can be very soft, 70% thinned out (effaced) and perhaps 3 cm dilated before true labor begins. Hormones start the softening of the cervix. Then,the contractions that occur throughout your pregnancy and become stronger the closer you get to full term (Braxton Hicks contractions) produce the thinning and dilatation of the cervix. In subsequent pregnancies, because the cervix has already dilated once before, effacement and dilatation usually occur simultaneously when labor begins.
Jerri Colonero RN
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