Not that it really makes a difference because vaginal exams are not a good predictor about when a baby will be born, but I can’t help being curious about dilation, effacement, labor and the like. I’ve just had so many contractions, and have read a lot about the difference between false labor and true labor, and I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’ve had real early labor contractions a multiple times and that the labor just goes away again. I wonder if I am further along than the 3cm and 70% effacement that I was two weeks ago, and if so, how far along could my cervix possibly be? I did a Google search for how far dilated can you be and not be in labor? and like pretty much everything else pregnancy-related, there are lots of forums about it.
This BabyCenter forum was pretty interesting – people generally seemed to lean towards 6cm as the answer, and many people said that when you start active labor already pretty far dilated and effaced, then the last bit tends to go very quickly. The following post was hearsay, but I thought it was interesting considering my circumstances:
my doula friend said she had a client once who went several weeks with “false starts” where labor would come and go and come and go (no active labor) and was 9 cm when she went into active labor. can you imagine?
This Mothering.com forum is also interesting, and contained this interesting post:
I’ve heard of clients who have been 8cm for days before going into regular, active labor (which is usually quite short, which is why my preceptor doesn’t do VEs before active labor.
We have a client that we know is at least 5cm because she’s called us to her home twice and labor stopped (she’s actually having a couple hours of labor every 3 nights so I’m betting she’s closer to 7cm dilated by now since she’s having a lot of prodromal labor). I sure hope we don’t miss her birth, she’s 2 hours away.
There are also lots of resources on prodromal labor. A lot of articles make it sound like a simple early labor phase like you read about in books or hear about in classes, where you just need to take a shower or a walk, get some rest, etc., and active labor will begin, but that’s not necessarily the case. This article pretty much sums up what I have been going through. It’s all very confusing, when I thought it would be so much simpler… Contractions = Labor is not the case after all!