Effacement is a part of the birthing process that designates how far or wide the cervix has dilated prior to delivery. During labor, the cervix slowly softens and widens as the baby descends lower and lower into the birth canal. Another term for effacement is cervical thinning. This process is followed by numerical percentages. The effacement process may begin several weeks before the actual delivery.
Before birth, a woman's cervix is thick and long. It shortens and thins as delivery approaches. This is what is meant by effacement. As a woman's cervix widens to accept the delivery of a baby, the "plug" that seals the uterus from the outside environment is released. The range of effacement stands between 0 percent and 100 percent. When 100 percent effacement is reached, the baby is ready to be born.
Effacement, Station and Dilation
Effacement, station and dilation are all terms that an expectant mother may hear in the weeks to minutes before delivery, but they mean different things. Dilation is a term also related to the cervix, and it is measured in centimeters, from zero to 10. Station refers to how far down in the birth canal the baby has traveled and is measured from -3 to +3.
60 Percent Effacement
A woman who reaches 60 percent effacement is one whose baby has begun to descend into the birth canal. At this point, the cervix is not fully thinned out but is more than halfway to that point. At this stage, the mother may or may not be in labor. It depends on other factors, including dilation, and whether or not this is a first or second child. A woman can be 60 percent effaced but not dilated, but the good news is that the birthing process has begun. Every woman is different, and as most mothers know, babies will come when they're good and ready.