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Readiness for labour - ripe cervix, Bishop point system

Readiness for labour - ripe cervix, Bishop point system


Is my cervix ripe or 'favourable'?

The success of an induction will usually depend on the woman's physical 'readiness' for labour. The type of induction method selected will also be decided on this issue. If the decision is made to induce the labour, then the chosen method(s) will depend on:

The ripeness of your cervix.

The cervix changes in consistency, and position, towards the end of pregnancy and during labour. For most of the pregnancy the cervix lies towards the back of the vagina, behind the baby's head. This is called a 'posterior cervix' and is often hard to reach by the caregiver if they are performing a vaginal examination. Near the time of labour and / or during prelabour and early labour, the cervix starts to move towards the front of the baby's head. This is known as either a 'central' or 'anterior cervix' (depending on how far forward it has moved), and can usually be easily felt by the caregiver if being examined. The cervix also changes from being very firm and closed during pregnancy, to being soft to touch and slightly open just before labour starts.
The position, softness and openness of the cervix are usually assessed by the caregiver to determine what induction method will be used and / or whether the induction is likely to succeed. A more posterior, firmer and closed cervix has a higher chance of not responding to the induction, (meaning the induction is not successful and a Caesarean may be needed). If this is the case, the caregiver may utilise various methods to 'ripen the cervix' before inducing the labour. (Taking into consideration that the 'ripening' methods may also produce unwanted side effects). In some cases, the methods used to ripen the cervix will also succeed in inducing the labour.

Whether it is your first or subsequent baby.

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