Baby Dropping: When Does It Happen And How To Know

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When does the baby drop? Women are often curious to know the answer. The baby usually drops into the pelvis in the final weeks of pregnancy, but some may drop just a few hours before birth. Baby drop is an indication that the body is ready for labor and the baby is taking its final position in the uterus before passing through the birthing canal. Predicting the actual time of the baby’s birth may be difficult, but the baby drop is a good sign for mothers to prepare for their delivery. You may read the post to understand the signs of baby drop, how the baby changes its position to move towards labor, and what you can do to ensure the baby gets into the right birthing position.

When Does The Baby Drop?

Baby dropping, also called lightening, happens between the 34th and 36th week of pregnancy (1). But in some women, the baby may get into the position just a few hours before the onset of labor. Baby dropping is more common in the first pregnancy than the subsequent ones. If you feel that your baby has dropped, then check with your doctor about the position of the baby.

Keep reading, and we’ll tell you in detail how your baby’s position changes as you prepare for delivery.

How Does A Baby’s Position Progress Towards Labor?

Usually, babies assume different positions inside the womb, but towards the due date they settle down into the pelvis in a head-down position.

A baby’s movement into the pelvis is described based on stations, which is a standard measurement in gynecology (1). The stations at which the baby’s head is positioned range from -3 to +3.

  • The highest station is -3, which indicates that the baby is not engaged in the pelvis or its head is above the pelvis.
  • +3 indicates that the baby is right into the birthing canal, with the head starting to emerge from the birthing canal.
  • The 0 station indicates that the baby is fully engaged, with the head at the bottom of the pelvis.

But how would you know if your baby has dropped? Read on to know.

What Are The Signs Of Baby Dropping During Pregnancy?

As the baby drops down, you can notice the following changes in your body.

  1. Visible change in the abdomen: You can notice your belly hanging lower than it did before.
  1. Breathing gets easier: As the baby eases pressure on the diaphragm, breathing gets easier.
  1. Pressure on the pelvis: You can feel an increased pressure and pain in the pelvis as the baby drops lower.
  1. Increased vaginal discharge: As the baby gets fully engaged in the pelvis, it puts pressure on the cervix for dilation, and you lose the mucus plug, which is a thick, pink and jelly-like discharge. This mucus plug keeps the cervical opening blocked during pregnancy to prevent any bacteria from entering the uterus.
  1. Frequent urination: With the baby’s head exerting pressure on the bladder, the urge for urination increases.
  1. Backache: Extra pressure on the lower back muscles causes the pain.
  1. Increased appetite: With the baby dropping down, the pressure on the stomach and heartburn ease and your appetite increases (2).
  1. Hemorrhoids: They are caused due to the pressure applied by the baby’s head on the pelvic and rectal nerves.

In the case of frequent or constant pain, fluid leak or bleeding, go to the doctor.

Sometimes, even with the due date nearing, the baby may not drop into the pelvis. But don’t worry. You can help your baby move into the optimal position by following a few tips.

How Can You Make Your Baby Drop?

If the baby doesn’t seem to drop into the pelvis even after 36 weeks of pregnancy, here is what you can do (3):

  • Indulge in physical activities to open up the cervix. But do not engage in strenuous ones.
  • Avoid sitting cross-legged as it can push the baby back. Sitting with the knees apart and leaning forward can make the baby move down into the pelvis.
  • Using a birthing ball helps move the baby to the pelvis and also reduces back pain.
  • Squats help in opening the pelvis and strengthening the pelvic muscles. This helps move the baby closer to the pelvis. However, avoid deep squats.
  • Lie on the left side with cushions between the knees.
  • Swim or float with your belly facing upward. Avoid breaststrokes in case of pelvic pain.
  • If your work needs you to sit for long at one place, make sure to take breaks and move around at regular intervals.
  • You may also see a certified chiropractor.

Do talk to your doctor before trying any of these or if you think that the baby is not moving into the pelvic region.

What Should You Do When The Baby Drops?

If you feel that your baby has dropped, visit the doctor first. Your doctor can track the development and let you know about the tentative date for labor. Signs of baby dropping before 30 weeks of pregnancy may indicate preterm birth. In that case, seek immediate medical attention to prevent premature delivery.

Baby drop is an indication that you are close to holding your baby in your arms. To know when the baby drops, stay alert and mindful of the common signs such as increased urination, discharge, changed shape of the belly, and other noticeable symptoms. This will help you and your doctor prepare for your baby’s arrival and ensure a smooth delivery. If the baby drop does not occur within 34th to 36th week, stay calm and consult your doctor and follow the required measures that may help start the process.

References:

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shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs from the University of Mumbai. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health... more

Dr. Stuart J. Fischbein

(MD)
Dr. Stuart J. Fischbein is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, lecturer, and a published author (Fearless Pregnancy, Wisdom & Reassurance from a Doctor, A Midwife, and A Mom; Homebirth With an Obstetrician, A Series of 135 Out of Hospital Births; Breech Birth at Home: Outcomes of 60 Breech and 109 Cephalic Planned Home and Birth... more