The term âbaby droppingâ is something that made me wince when I first heard it. I thought it applied to actually dropping your baby while holding it, a fear of mine Iâve had since, well, since my friends started having babies.
In fact, Iâll never forget the first time I held a real, live baby. I was at my friend Billyâs house and his sister-in-law was visiting. She held out a wiggly-jiggly 6-month-old baby girl and asked me if I wanted to hold her. I said, âOh, noooo. But thanks! I donât want to break her.â They all laughed at me and insisted I hold her anyway. âBut what if I drop her?!?â I remember protesting. Again, they all laughed.
It wasnât until I had my own children that I realized how silly I sounded. But that encounter was one that resulted in a baby smiling at me, and that smile made me realize that Iâd like to be a mom, someday. I certainly wasnât ready at the time though. Incidentally, that baby is now in high school!
Anyway, baby dropping has nothing to do with having total butterfingers and dropping your baby onto the ground. It has everything to do with your baby making his or her way down into your pelvis to get ready for labor.
Here is the list of all uncommon signs of labor is approaching.
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Baby Dropping â What Is It?
Baby dropping happens when that little baby head starts its journey down into your pelvis. Itâs also called lightening because it results in a lighter feeling for you, Mom. It happens at the end of the third trimester and is a sign that labor is getting closer.
But just wait! Thereâs no need to run off to the hospital yet.
A smart move instead would be to make sure youâve got your hospital bags ready to go so that when the time comes, you wonât be running about like a chicken with your head cut off. If youâve already got your bags ready, double-checking them is a good idea. And just remember, should you forget something, someone can always bring it so please try to stay calm.
Prior to your baby dropping, he or she may rotate, putting the back of the head toward the front of your belly with the head facing down. Then, down into the pelvis, your baby goes! Whether you feel it or not, your doctor will tell you it has engaged once it has settled into your pelvis.
When Can I Expect My Baby To Drop?
Unfortunately, there is no set time for your babyâs head to drop. This is why toward the end of your pregnancy, youâll be visiting your doctor weekly. He or she will be able to tell you whether your baby has dropped or not if you didnât feel it. The timing is different for every one of us.
When your baby drops, itâs a sign that youâre getting closer to labor, but thereâs no clear timeline from there how long it will take before you go into labor. In other words, itâs not a good predictor. For first-time moms, you can expect that your baby will drop somewhere between 2 and 4 weeks prior to delivery, but it can also happen earlier.
For women that have already given birth before, your baby may not even drop down into the pelvis until your labor begins. This is because your body has been through this process before and your pelvis will require less time to get ready to birth your baby.
If itâs your first rodeo, keeping a lookout during your last month of pregnancy is wise. Again, your weekly doctorâs appointments will shed some light on whatâs going on.
For my first pregnancy,
I remember my baby dropping in week 36. I remember feeling so much lighter at that time, though the feeling shifts a bit and starts getting uncomfortable the further down your baby drops.
I gave birth to a healthy daughter at week 38, though I had friends who dropped in week 36 and didnât pop theirs out until week 40. Iâve also had friends with their first baby who didnât drop until week 38 and then popped in the week 39. My best friend dropped in week 38 and was still pregnant at week 41. Her labor had to be induced.
I could list all my mom friends here and tell you our tales but I think you get a general idea: itâs different for all of us and just because one thing happens to your friend doesnât mean itâs going to happen to you.
Just be prepared. Not worriedâ¦prepared. Because when it does happen, youâll know youâve got to get ready to expect that labor will come any time after this, though if your baby just dropped, chances are youâve still got a bit of time before itâs go-time.
What Does Baby Dropping Feel Like?
When your baby drops, you may not even feel it happening. You may, however, notice that the shape of your abdomen has changed. For others, you may feel a very distinct and noticeable movement very suddenly. Again, like the timeframe for your baby dropping and itâs relativity to labor, itâs all a great big surprise what youâre going to get.
Do you like surprises? If not, get ready!
If you feel anything at all, you may notice your abdomen feels lighter after your baby has dropped. With baby down in your pelvis, it makes more room in your middle which is why it gets the name lightening. ð
For me, I didnât feel my first daughter drop suddenly. I just noticed one day that I felt lighter in the middle. My checkup was the following day and my doctor confirmed that sheâd dropped down. Again, for me, that was week 36, but for you, it could be totally different.
I felt fine until maybe 3 or 4 days before she was born. Looking back, I felt very uncomfortable between my legs, like I had a bowling ball there. Many other women describe this feeling too, but some of them do not at all feel lighter like I did when the drop first happened. They just felt that bowling-ball-sensation between their legs.
Our experiences are all different, so let me just say this: in the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you should really focus on just finding a way to be comfortable. Youâll thank me for that later!
Signs Your Baby Is Dropping
So, as I said, not every woman can feel their baby dropping. The question burning in your mind then must be, âWhat are the signs my baby is dropping?â Of course, your doctor will confirm it at your next checkup, but if you experience any of these, itâs likely you have a baby down in the pelvis getting ready to push the labor alarm button to come on out in the next week to a month!
- Lower belly
Even if you carried high during your whole pregnancy, your bump will look lowered once your baby drops. If you donât feel anything unusual toward the end, take a look in the mirror and see if your baby bump looks different.
- Pain from pelvis pressure
When your baby drops into the pelvis, depending on the station (which Iâll explain shortly), you may feel lighter from the dropping. At least initially. Once your baby settles in more, getting closer to the big day, the pressure in your pelvic area increases. If you waddle when you walk, your baby has dropped.
- Surges of pelvic pain
This wonât happen to every mom-to-be, but some of you will get these intense surges of pelvic pain. Doctors say itâs because your babyâs head is pushing on the ligaments in your pelvis. Itâs very uncomfortable, which is why you should make sure to take it easy during this time to ease your pain.
- Ease of breathing
Letâs not focus on the pain, shall we? Letâs talk about something good that will happen when your baby drops. Like the fact that there is less pressure on your diaphragm. Youâll be able to breathe easier which is such a relief!
Perhaps the last point isnât going to make up for the next ones, but itâs important you know about them. With pressure put on your pelvic nerves and rectum, you may get hemorrhoids. Iâm so sorry! I know! Itâs horrible, believe me. I was very lucky and I never had them during my pregnancies, but I got them after. I STILL get them. You can ask your doctor to recommend a safe cream to use to relieve the pain.
- Increased discharge
This one didnât happen to me because my birth was in the 15% of women whose water burst forth like a dam, just like in the movies. But for the rest of you, that increased pressure on your cervix is going to loosen that mucus plug which will gradually release in the form of a jelly-like or yolk-like discharge. Itâs there to protect your uterus from harmful bacterial intruders, which is why if what happened to me happens to you, you must get to the hospital quickly to prevent any problems.
- Urgent, frequent need to pee
I canât say this happened to me because, for both of my pregnancies, I felt like I constantly had to pee. In fact, I couldnât even get to the bus stop down the end of our street without having to run into the bathroom in the restaurant at the bottom of the hill there. So my need to pee often didnât change at all once my babies had dropped. It may, of course, be very different for you.
- Back pain
During your pregnancy, youâve likely gotten used to many aches and pains. Once the baby drops, get ready for more intense back pain. Again, I urge you to take it easy and if you find a way to get into a comfortable position in your day, consider it a success.
- Reduces heartburn and increased hunger
Some women are lucky. When your baby drops, you may experience fewer heartburn woes and feel hungrier. For me, I still suffered from heartburn until the very end. That old wivesâ tale about heartburn being related to how much hair your child is born with very well may be true (okay, so itâs not, but both my daughters had gobs of hair when they were born).
Fetal Stations In Labor
If you think your baby has dropped, you should make sure youâve got an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to use a fetal stations scale to determine the position of your baby.
Most commonly used is a five-point scale. Here’s the deal:
This system divides the pelvis by using ischial spine markers on your pelvis as indicators. The ischial spines are divided into fifths. When your baby drops and prepares for labor, the head becomes level with these ischial spines. The scale goes from -5 to +5 and the further down your baby goes on the scale, the closer it is to being born.
Essentially, what this means is that before your baby drops, the station will likely be at -5. Once it does drop and your doctor announces it is engaged, you may be at station zero. At the crowning, when your baby is making its way through your vagina during delivery, thatâs station +5. Most women are at a station of zero or lower when they are fully dilated.
Unless you are me. ð
Then you will spend 24 hours in labor and not dilate nearly enough. My daughter also turned around inside of me, a very painful experience, but not to worry! What happened to me is much rarer. We couldnât get her to turn and she was nowhere near the right station, so I wound up with an emergency c-section.
Donât panic. Not yet anyway. It wonât do you a bit of good. Just go in for your exam and your doctor will examine you down there to feel for the babyâs head and check out all those other things. This is not the time to be embarrassed. Youâll have tons of medical professionals looking at your lady bits, so try to relax and let them help you. ð
How Can I Encourage My Baby To Drop?
If your due date is fast approaching but your baby hasnât dropped yet, you can do a few things to facilitate that descent. Try walking around your neighborhood or local park. That fresh air will also do you some good.
Or at home, you can try squats, pelvic tilts, or sitting on a birthing ball. Just a word of caution with the squatsâ¦keep a hand on a steady surface so you donât wobble over. Your balance is severely compromised toward the end of your pregnancy.
By doing these things, you open up your hips and stretch those pelvic muscles which encourage your baby to drop down.
When Should I Worry About My Baby Dropping?
If your baby hasnât dropped yet and youâre toward the end of your pregnancy, your doctor will be able to help. But if it has, you may be wondering whatâs normal and whatâs not. Some pelvic pain is very normal once your baby has dropped.
Whatâs not normal is a constant pain in the pelvis during this time. Random surges of pain are what usually happens but if you feel youâre in continuous pain, call your doctor immediately. Additionally, if that pain comes with bleeding, fluid loss, or a fever, you should make sure to tell your doctor straight away to help take care of you and your baby properly.