Understanding Cervical Dilation during Childbirth

Cervical dilation is a crucial aspect of childbirth, referring to the opening of the cervix to allow the passage of a baby through the birth canal.

Understanding the process is essential for healthcare professionals and educators, and realistic birth simulators have become invaluable tools providing immersive educational experiences.

Cervical dilation is a dynamic process that occurs during labour, and its assessment is a key factor in determining the process of childbirth.

The ability to accurately assess cervical dilation is important for healthcare providers as it helps them make informed decisions regarding the timing and possible need for intervention during labour.

Cervical Dilation and First Stage of Labour

Cervical dilation typically occurs during the first stage of labour, which is divided into three phases: early labour, active labour, and transition.

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Early Labour

The early phase of labour, also known as the latent phase, is characterised by the onset of contractions. In this phase, the cervix dilates to around 3 or 4 centimetres. This stage can last a long time and usually involves mild contractions.

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Active Labour

As labour progresses into the active phase, contractions become more intense and regular. The cervix continues to dilate more rapidly during active labour, typically from around 4 to 7 centimetres. This phase is marked by increased frequency and strength of contractions.

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Transition is the final phase of the first stage of labour.  The most intense contractions occur in the transition phase. During transition, the cervix reaches full dilation, expanding from 8 to 10 centimetres. It signifies the transition from the first stage to the pushing stage.

Hands-on Learning through Simulation Training

Birth simulators replicate the complexities of cervical dilation in a controlled environment, allowing practitioners to gain hands-on experience without compromising patient safety.


The benefits of realistic simulations for cervical dilation include:

Enhanced Learning Experience

Birth simulators provide an interactive learning experience, allowing students and healthcare professionals to practice assessing cervical dilation in a realistic setting. This hands-on approach fosters a deeper understanding of the process.

Risk-Free Practice

Simulations offer a risk-free environment for healthcare providers to refine their skills. Mistakes made during simulation do not have real-life consequences and allow students to make errors and learn from them.

Team Training

Simulation training provides an opportunity for interdisciplinary team training, fostering effective communication and collaboration among healthcare providers. This is important in a fast-paced environment of the delivery room.


Simulations can be tailored to replicate a wide range of clinical scenarios, accommodating different cervical presentations and complications. This helps healthcare professionals be well prepared for the diversity of simulation they may encounter in real-life practice.

How does MODEL-med help?

The MODEL-med® Charlie and Charlie’s Mum Obstetric Examination Simulator is designed specifically for medical practitioners to assess cervical dilatation and fetal presentation.

The user simply places the cervix over Charlie’s head and then stretches it until the desired dilation is achieved.

The MODEL-med® Charlie and Charlie’s Mum Obstetric Examination Simulator comes with three cervices, which are, from left to right, primipara, oedematous and multipara.

After lubricating the cervix with a water-based surgical lubricant the head can then be inserted into the opening at the back of the model. Using this method, the user can have any fetal presentation and cervical dilatation they wish.

Accurate assessment of cervical dilatation is essential for safe and effective management of labour and delivery. It allows healthcare providers to monitor progress, detect complications, and make informed decisions that promote the well being of both the mother and the baby.