Labor: What Does Baby's Station Mean?

Can you explain what baby's "station" means? I hear women discussing what station there baby was at during labor and I have no idea what they are talking about.

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

The concept of "station" denotes the degree of engagement of the fetal head as it navigates the maternal pelvis. Station is the relationship of the presentng part to an imaginary line drawn between the ischial spines of the pelvis. The ischial spines are two bony prominences that demarcate the middle of the pelvis.

Although we assess station during the last weeks of prenatal care (or in the case of preterm labor), its most frequent application is in labor. Progress in labor is assessed by means of several parameters, namely cervical consistency (soft to firm), cervical effacement (shortening), cervical position (posterior, anterior, or mid), cervical dilatation (0 to 10 cm) and station (-4 which is just coming into the pelvis to +4 station which is on the perineum or ready to be born). When the top of the fetal head (or other presenting part as in a breech presentation), arrives at the level of the ischial spines, the baby is said to be at 0 station or "engaged.”

Primigravidas (women having their first baby) typically engage before labor and may enter labor at -1, 0 or even +1 station.

Multigravidas (women having their second or greater baby) often engage during labor.

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