The Bishop Score

Something few soon-to-be mothers know about is their Bishop Score.  In most cases, it's not an important piece of information, but if your doctor is encouraging you to be induced, your score is very important for you to understand.  There are several ways a woman’s body prepares for childbirth.  As your care-provider examines each of these, they are assigned a number and the sum of these numbers indicates how ready your body is for labor.  A high score (above eight) indicates that an induction is highly likely to succeed and a low Bishop score is less likely to succeed.

How your body prepares for birth:

  1. Position of the Cervix – The cervix moves forward (anterior) so that uterus is aligned with the vagina and the baby can move smoothly down the birth canal.   A posterior cervix is less ready for childbirth.

  2. Consistency of the Cervix – The neck of the cervix softens.  Often a firm cervix is said to feel like the end of your nose.  As it softens it will feel like your ear lobe.  The cervix must soften so that it can dilate and move around the baby’s head.

  3. Effacement of the Cervix – Your cervix starts of being about 2 inches long and as your body prepares for labor or is in labor it will shorten.  This number is usually given in a percentage, say 30% effaced.

  4. Dilation of the Cervix – The cervix goes from a closed position, sealed by a mucous plug, to complete dilation at 10 centimeters.  The cervix must be completely dilated for the mother to give birth.

  5. Station – The baby is assigned a station based on where his/her head is in relationship to the pelvis.  Negative stations -3,-2, -1 indicate that the baby is high and has not engaged in the pelvis.  At 0 station the baby is engaged at the ischial spines of the pelvis.  Plus stations indicate movement through the pelvis and birth.

Additional factors included in your Bishop’s Score is whether or not you are past your estimated due date (increases the score) or if you have given birth previously (increases the score).

If your body has not made progress toward these goals, or very slight progress you may want to have a discussion with your doctor about the necessity of induction.  Unless induction is medically necessary, it is always best to wait for your body to go into labor naturally – no matter how uncomfortable you are, when your doctor is on vacation, or how big the baby’s head is believed to be.

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