A woman cannot feel the actual dilation of the cervix, however, when fully dilated, she is in active labor and experiences contractions at regular intervals as the body readies itself for labor, according to American Pregnancy. A woman's cervix can begin dilating up to one month before delivery with no symptoms, but, as labor begins, dilation is accompanied by contractions.
American Pregnancy states that cervix dilation should be checked by a doctor or midwife by a manual pelvic exam throughout the different stages of labor to gauge its progress. Cervical dilation is accompanied by cervical effacement, or the thinning of the cervix as labor approaches, according to What to Expect. What to Expect goes on to state that the process of cervical dilation and effacement varies considerably among women and can take as little as a few hours to as much as a few weeks. Cervical dilation can take place both with and without other symptoms of active labor, but the process is not fully complete until a woman's cervix is dilated to 10 centimeters. Once fully dilated, the cervix is completely open and she is instructed by medical practitioners to push the baby out, completing the final phase of labor.