I was completely effaced and 4 (stretchy to 5cm) effaced with him for at least, geez, 6 hrs.
Why would I efface completely, but not dilate?
Shouldn't the two be related?
Wife to dh, Mommy to my heavenly angel, J (06), and my earthly angels, S (07) and E (10)
Effacement allows the babies head to come down and press firmly against the cervix which aids dilation. I would guess, in your case, that you "stuck" at 4cm because your babe's head wasn't firmly against the cervix. During that time your cervix fully effaced which allowed the babe's head to apply firmly to the cervix and then you continued dilating. The fact that you had some dilation was probably related to the fact that this is your 3rd (from your signature).
Anyway, that is my guess, based on what you wrote. Of course there may have been other factors as well such as babe needing to rotate a bit or flex his head to fit better.
Hope that makes sense.
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
I had a similar situation. I was 80% effaced and 3cm dilated at the onset of labor. After hours of back labor, I was at 4cm and 100% effacement, which sort of discouraged me, but the nurse explained that effacement is very hard work, just like dilation, which sort of encouraged me again. I was at 4cm and 100% for about 4 hours, and within the next hour at 10cm. Everybody dilates so differently... But it is true that effacement has to be complete before dilation can progress completely. I imagined my cervix like a turtleneck sweater that gets shorter and shorter til the turtleneck is gone, and then the head opening has to dilate... Visualization helps me
Effacement: vertical descent - cervix is Latin for neck; the cervix is like a turtle neck sweater or tube sock. It is closed and a sign that it is thinning is the loss of the mucus plug that is held in place by capillaries in the cervical canal. The cervical canal will gradually become shorter with the descent and weight of the baby's body and presenting part, usually the fetal occiput, and with the action of the uterine musculature.
The os or opening of the cervix is marked by dilatation; dilatation is a horizontal motion. Complete dilatation is considered ten centimeters or four inches. Dilatation and effacement pull the cervical canal into the uterus and are one with the birth canal by the time the baby is on the pelvic floor ready to be born.
The uterus scrunches the placenta off the interior uterine wall after the birth through the continued uterine contractions and oxytocin action.
It is a wonderful mechanism when one understands it. I always wonder why doctors feel they have to mess around with it.
mom to 3 home-born children, wife to a great guy
HeatherB ~ mama to 3 wonderful boys: 03/02; 09/04; 09/07 - and Eliana, 11/13/10!
Founder of Houston Birth Alternatives: Be Informed, Encouraged, Supported birth support group and aspiring midwife.