At the onset of labour there is a phase of early or latent dilatation known as cervical effacement. This process of cervical effacement is essential for the body to prepare for the moment of delivery. As the cervix effaces, it gradually dilates. This makes it easier for the baby to pass through the birth canal.
Another term used for cervical effacement is ripening, as the cervix is maturing and preparing for delivery. The speed and timing of cervical effacement will depend on the individual woman and pregnancy