Your body is pretty amazing. When you look at pregnancy start to finish, the way the uterus grows and changes, how your body adapts, and all of the moving parts that are so perfectly timed. It’s certainly awe inspiring. One part of the body that is largely ignored until pregnancy, and really, until the talk of giving birth comes up is the cervix and the cervical os.

 The cervix is the entrance to the uterus. The cervical os is just the opening of the cervix.

This cervical opening to the uterus allows sperm to enter the uterus during the period of ovulation. It opens and closes so slightly. And this is also what effaces (thins) and dilates (opens) in labor and delivery to allow for the birth of the body.

Between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy, the cervix tends to shift forward, pointing toward the front of the vagina.

It gets softer and starts to widen and open (also known as dilating), and thin (or efface). If this isn’t your first baby, the cervix is already softer and a little more open than a first-time mom’s.

Between 14 and 20 weeks, a woman with cervical insufficiency may have vague symptoms like backaches, pelvic pressure, mild abdominal cramps, light vaginal bleeding or a change in vaginal discharge, but some women have no signs at all.

Another option is cerclage, a day surgery in which one continuous suture is used to close the cervix. A preventive cerclage could be done at 12 to 14 weeks (if you have a history of cervical insufficiency) or up to 24 weeks (if it’s found later). The suture is removed around week 37.

Dialation of the cervix is measured by centimeters. When the dilation become 10centimeters is considered as fully dilated. Effacement and dilation happen at the same time but not necessarily at the same pace. And they are not independent of one another. With the contractions of labor, the processes of effacement and dilation occur.