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Donna BaloWhat Does "Station" Mean?
by Donna Harvel Balo ARNP, CNM, MS

Q. Can you explain what station means? I had my 36 week appointment today, and my doctor did a cervical check. He said I am 1 cm dilated and my cervix is thick. He said I'm -1 station, which is a good thing. I asked him what that meant, and he explained in doctorr mumbo jumbo that I didn't quite understand, except that it has to do with how low the baby is in the pelvis.

A. "Station" describes the location of the baby on its descent down into the birth canal. Negative numbers mean the baby is not engaged; positive numbers mean the baby is engaged.

More technically, inside your pelvis are ischial spines. They are used as landmarks when we examine a woman:

  • If the baby's head is even with the ischial spines, the station is 0.
  • If the baby's head is 1cm above the spines, the station is -1 (2cm above -2 etc).
  • If the baby's head is 1cm below the spines (on the way out!), the station is +1 (2cm below +2 etc).

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