Effacing is an important part of the final stages of labor. It occurs when the cervix softens, shortens and becomes thinner. The American Pregnancy Association explains that it occurs after the baby has engaged in the mother's pelvis. At 100 percent effacement, a woman will have a paper-thin cervix and will soon commence pushing. Effacement can be encouraged naturally or medically when labor seems to have stalled.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is an herbal treatment that is recommended by many midwives, according to What to Expect. The oil in the capsule can act like a prostaglandin, a hormone in the woman's body that ripens the cervix. The oil capsules can be taken by mouth or rubbed directly onto the cervix during the final weeks of pregnancy. The capsules also can be placed inside the vagina before bedtime. Women who have pregnancy complications, such as placenta previa or vaginal infection, should not carry out this method of cervical effacement.
Sex in the last month of pregnancy may encourage cervical dilation. Sperm contains prostaglandins that may help thin the cervix. This method should not be attempted by a woman who has lost her mucus plug, the thick mass of mucus and tissue that protects the cervix from infectious agents from entering. As the cervix opens, the plug will loosen and eventually pass from the vagina. This may go unnoticed, or there may be some thick mucus discharged that is slightly pink. Sex after the plug has passed can introduce harmful bacteria to the uterus and the baby.
Pressure from the baby's weight can help encourage the cervix to dilate. Natural dilation occurs when the baby engages in the pelvis and prepares to go down the birth canal. By sitting or standing in certain positions, such as sitting with the legs spread and the elbows on the knees or sitting on an exercise ball, the mother may encourage more dilation. Walking may stimulate the baby's descent and improve dilation. If possible, a woman can get on her hands and knees with help and allow the baby's weight to shift forward. Nearly any comfortable position that consists of opening the pelvis and keeping the baby's weight forward can help.