When the body starts preparing for labor, the baby drops into the pelvis. The baby needs to attain the optimal position inside the uterus to pass through the birthing canal. While it is impossible to predict when the baby will be born, ‘baby dropping’ into the pelvis is often considered as an indication that you are nearing labor.
MomJunction explains baby dropping, the signs of baby dropping, and what you can do to help the baby get into the required 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. 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.
- Visible change in the abdomen: You can notice your belly hanging lower than it did before.
- Breathing gets easier: As the baby eases pressure on the diaphragm, breathing gets easier.
- Pressure on the pelvis: You can feel an increased pressure and pain in the pelvis as the baby drops lower.
- 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.
- Frequent urination: With the baby’s head exerting pressure on the bladder, the urge for urination increases.
- A backache: Extra pressure on the lower back muscles causes the pain.
- Increased appetite: With the baby dropping down, the pressure on the stomach and heartburn ease and your appetite increases.
- 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:
- 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.
As the due date approaches, look out for the symptoms of the baby dropping or otherwise. Stay calm as the pregnancy progresses naturally and the baby comes into position. Avoid mental and physical strain to ensure that the delivery is smooth. Just know that once the baby drops, the waiting game is almost over and before you know, you will be holding your little one in your arms.