When you hear those magic words, ‘you’re 10cm dilated,’  you know it won’t be long until you finally get to meet your baby. 

For some, you may be surprised how quickly you reached the all important 10cm and for others it may feel like the longest, hardest journey of your lives.

But to reach 10cm, there was a point in time where you were 3cms! I hear so many stories of  women getting disheartened when they have an examination and their midwife turns to them and say’s ‘you’re only 3cm.’

At that moment, it may feel like you’re wading through treacle, you’re not getting anywhere fast and you still have a mountain to climb. 

Trust me, there is no such thing as ‘ONLY’ being 3cm dilated. If you had any idea what your body had already achieved for your cervix to be 3cm dilated, you would be celebrating how utterly brilliantly you were doing.

To get to 3cms your cervix has already done a superb job. It is softening and thinning out and it’s committed to doing this to the very best of its ability.  You don’t need to know the details you just need to know that it’s a lot. A lot for someone who has spent the last nine months growing and looking after an actual human. A lot for someone who for the past three months hasn’t had a full night’s sleep due to said human lying and kicking on your bladder relentlessly. Just alot.

For those who do like to know the details, your cervix starts out at about 2cm thick, think the thickness of an average thumb, and needs to become as thin as a piece of paper. That’s a lot of thinning required.

All this is happening during early labour. Each and every one of your surges have got you to this point. Each and every surge is bringing your baby closer to you. 

And remember, the number of cm you are dilated is simply a snapshot in time and bears no indication of how long your labour will last. you might be 3cms right now but you could easily reach 10cm within the hour. Every woman is different, every baby is different and no one can predict how quickly you will progress.

So if you hear those words, ‘you’re only 3cm,’ stop, take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve already come and celebrate the fact that YOU ARE 3CM! Your body is amazing. You are amazing. You’ve totally got this.

Louisa McDonald


With thanks to Kiddicare.com for the excellent illustration.