Some Useful Definitions


A contraction is a rhythmic tightening and relaxation of the uterus muscles.

There are 2 types:

  • Braxton-hicks contractions : they’re usually painless, can last up to 1 min, they are present from the earliest days of pregnancy. They do NOT cause changes in the cervix.

  • Labor/ Progressing contractions: they gradually become stronger, longer and more frequent. They cause the cervix to dilate and help the baby exit the mother’s body.


The presentation is the part of the baby that is lying over the mother’s cervix and will emerge first.

There are 3 types :

  • vertex / Occiput (head first)


    © The Family Way Publications, Inc.

  • breech (bottom first)


    © The Family Way Publications, Inc.

  • transverse

What is breech presentation?

Breech presentation is when Baby’s buttocks, legs or feet are over the cervix.

There are three types:

  • Frank Breech: the baby’s buttocks are over the cervix and her legs are straight up toward her face (the most common breech presentation)

  • Complete breech: the baby appears to be sitting , cross-legged over the cervix

  • Footling or incomplete breech: one or both of the baby’s feet are over the cervix.


© A.D.A.M INC.



Dilation is the opening up of the cervix to allow the baby to pass from the uterus to the birth canal. It is measured in centimeters from 0 to 10.


Effacement is the thinning and shortening of the cervix. Measured in percentages from 0 to 100 or as a length in centimeters.

  •  0% -­‐> 3-­‐4 cm long

  • 50%-­‐> 2 cm long

  • 100 % -­‐> “paper thin”


    Effacement and dilation Source:

What is STATION?

the Station is the location of the top of presenting part of the fetus within the pelvis. Measured in centimeters in relation to an imaginary plane passing through the ischial spines (middle of the pelvis) which is referred to as 0 station.


© The Family Way Publications, Inc.

What is MOLDING?

Molding is the term used to describe the shape of the baby’s head after birth, when it’s a bit oblong. As the baby is coming down into the pelvis, the fetal skull may alter its shape to fit. The plates of bones in the baby’s head slide over one another. This is a natural tool of adjustment. This will resolve itself within a day or two after birth.


Fatma Safi for ATEP


*Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, by Simkin, Whalley, Keppler, Durham, & Bolding (2010)

* Maternity & Women’s Health Care, by Lowdermilk, Perry, Cashion, & Alden (2012)

*Prepared Childbirth the Family Way by Amis and Green (2014)

*ICEA guide to pregnancy and childbirth (2012)

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