There are various stages of the cervix during pregnancy that can help protect the fetus and prepare for delivery. Doctors must monitor various aspects of the pregnancy and respond accordingly to any abnormalities that may arise to reduce risk or prevent potential for birth injury or injury to the mother.
The Cervix and Pregnancy
In the initial stages of the cervix during pregnancy, the cervix will begin to thicken and produce more glandular cells. These glandular cells will release mucus into the area, eventually forming a plug that will keep the uterus closed as the fetus grows.
In women who have never before had children, the plug needed is very small; typically, their cervical openings are minute, often the size of a pinhead. In women who have had previous pregnancies, their openings are likely to be a bit larger, so the mucus plug will need to be larger.
During the course of the pregnancy, blood flow will increase to the cervix and uterus in order to support the womb and fetus. Additionally, hormonal changes will help the cervix to shorten and open slightly in preparation for delivery.
When the woman nears the end of her pregnancy, the cervix walls will begin to thin out (efface) and widen (dilate), eventually causing the mucus plug to fall out. This will allow the baby to pass through the uterus and out the birth canal. Depending on the woman, the process of the cervix’s effacing and dilating could happen weeks before delivery begins or it could even occur on the actual day of the birth.
As labor commences, the cervix will respond to uterine pressure and contractions until the baby has been successfully delivered.
Talk to a Doctor About the Cervix and Pregnancy
The cervix goes through many changes during pregnancy. In order to prevent any adverse cervical conditions during pregnancy from developing, it’s important that women see their obstetrician regularly to discuss what they may expect in regard to the cervix and pregnancy, as well as the changes and possible implications of the various stages of the cervix during pregnancy.