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How Long After Effacement Does Labor Begin (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 to 7 hours

Pregnancy can be stressful and exciting. Every woman experiences a different pregnancy event. But, it is the same for most women. Pregnancy is normally classified into the first, second, and third trimesters. After passing through these stages, the labor begins and the woman finally delivers the baby.

Before the arrival of the baby, the mother’s body undergoes many changes. One such change is the effacement of the mother’s cervix. The effacement of the mother’s cervix can be defined as the elongation and dilution of the cervix. The cervix of the mother must elongate to a certain extent for the baby to come out.

How Long After Effacement Does Labor Begin

How long after effacement does labor begin?

Stages of Effacement of the CervixResults
No effacementNo dilation of the cervix. The baby does not move into the vaginal canal
60% effacedThe cervix dilates for about 1 to 2 centimeters
90% effacedThe cervix dilates for about 4 to 5 centimeters
100% effacedThe cervix dilates about 10 centimeters and the mother is ready for the delivery

The effacement of the cervix has various stages and decides the time of labor. The cervix is the end of the lower uterus that joins the uterine cavity and the vagina of any woman. The cervix is usually closed. It is thick and long. But, just before the beginning of delivery, the cervix shortens. It thins and becomes soft, and opens the vaginal canal.

The child is pulled out of the mother’s uterus through the vaginal canal. Hence, during pregnancy, the cervix goes through some changes, and effacement, dilations are a part of it.

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At first, at the end of the third trimester, the cervix is closed and is not dilated. But, later during the first stage of the labor, the cervix starts effacing and allows the baby to move into the vaginal canal. After a while, the cervix starts effacing at a faster pace.

The cervix dilates about one to two centimeters, is said to be 60% effaced. The cervix is said to be 90% effaced if it dilates about four to five centimeters. But, once the cervix gets fully effaced to about ten centimeters, the mother is ready for the delivery.

Why Does It Take This Long For The Labor To Begin After Effacement?

Effacement is measured in percentages while dilation of the cervix is measured in centimeters. Only after the effacement begins, the dilation of the cervix starts happening. Only after the dilation of the cervical to a certain extent can delivery begin. Labor begins once effacement starts. It marks the softening of the birth canal and only after 100% effacement, the baby can come out of its mother’s vaginal canal.

Only after 100% effacement, the labor pain begins. The effacement stages differ according to various women. There is no exact calculation for how long it should take. For some women, the labor begins immediately after full effacement. For some, the labor pains begin after days or weeks of labor effacement.

Some mothers even need medication and exercises to induce effacement and cervical dilation. There are many symptoms at the end of the third trimester that marks the beginning of effacement. It is not uncommon for some women to not experience any sort of symptoms.

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But, some of the common symptoms that indicate the start of the effacement include loss of mucus plug, sudden movement of the baby, pelvic discomfort, vaginal discharge, and many more. The time of effacement varies based on the mother’s reproductive health.

The gynecologists will narrow the time frame if the mothers want prior notice about the time the effacement will begin.


There is no certain time frame for the effacement to start at the end of the pregnancy. But if the mothers feel slight vaginal discomfort, they can follow some exercises and meditations. The cervix must reach 100% effacement for the delivery to begin. If you are not effacing on your own, you can always consult your doctors for advice.

You can try some ripening methods like paralleling your feet, using a birth ball, massages, application of castor oil, relaxation, and do anything to release oxytocin. Release of the oxytocin hormone increases effacement and dilation.