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One of the early signs that you are going to deliver the baby is when your baby drops. However, you can’t take this sign to the bank because it is not the most reliable sign. As a matter of fact, delivery could weeks away after the baby has dropped or the baby might not drop by any chance until you go into labor.
If you are confused and wondering when does the baby drop? How to know when the baby drops? We are going to discuss these questions in this article, but first, let’s talk about what baby dropping is?
What Does Baby Dropping Mean?
Dropping occurs when the baby moves down into the pelvis. This occurrence is also called “lightening” and is a sign that the baby’s first part out of the body, which is usually the head has descended into their mom’s pelvic cavity.
For some women, lightning starts a few weeks before their labor starts. However, for a few women lightening occurs only a few hours before labor begins. One thing to keep in mind is that all pregnancies are not the same. For some women, labor is close when their baby drops and for others, it might still take weeks. And for some, the baby doesn’t drop until their labor officially starts.
When Does the Baby Drop?
As we’ve mentioned, every pregnancy is different. Usually, a baby drops two to four weeks before labor it is the first pregnancy. In the following pregnancies, the baby doesn’t drop until the mother is in labor. The theory behind second-time moms is that the body already knows that you are going to have a baby and that’s why the pelvis needs less prep time.
How to Know When Does Baby Drop
Unfortunately, predicting when does the baby drop is never accurate as every mother is different. Oftentimes it takes the beginning of the labor for the baby to drop. But, if the baby drops before labor, these are the signs that you will feel:
1. You’ll Breathe Easier
When lightening happens, the baby literally drops into your pelvis, which means the pressure on your diaphragm will be released and you’ll be able to breathe easier.
2. Increased Pressure on Your Pelvis
After the baby drops, your diaphragm will be relieved, but your pelvis will feel a lot of pressure. As you adjust to the dropping, you’ll feel a prominent pregnancy waddle. To put it into perspective, it’s like walking with a bowling bowl between your legs.
3. You notice Increased Discharge
After the lightning, the baby’s head presses down on your cervix thinning and dilating it to start the labor. The cervix thins out but gets rid of the mucus plug that blocked the cervical opening. In the last few weeks of the pregnancy, you might notice increased discharge of mucus in a thicker stream.
4. Frequent trips to the Bathroom
When the baby’s head is lowered on your bladder, you’ll have to take bathroom trips every few minutes. Plus, the baby is growing a pound per week in the last few weeks of the pregnancy. The labor is about to start.
5. Easier eating
Since your baby has dropped, the pressure on the stomach from the uterus has decreased. It means your stomach is not squished anymore. It makes eating a lot easier and you can have full meals. And you won’t have indigestion and heartburn anymore.
6. You’ll Have Pelvic Pain
When the baby drops, you’ll feel zings of pain in your pelvic region. This happens because the baby’s head puts pressure on a number of ligaments in your pelvis. You’ll notice that it hurts when you move in a particular way or the pain might soar out of nowhere. It hurts because the baby is adjusting to the new position.
Also, it is important to remember that pelvic pain might be a sign of the baby dropping. But if the pain is constant, consult your doctor. More importantly, if you have symptoms such as bleeding, fever, or fluid loss, see your doctor immediately.
What Does it Feel Like When Baby Drops
Some mothers feel the baby dropping as a clear and sudden movement, whereas others might not even notice it at all. When the baby drops, some women also feel that their abdomen feels lighter because as the baby moves to the pelvis, it leaves more room in the middle.
Fetal Stations in Labor
It goes without saying that when your baby drops, you should see your doctor. The doctor can determine the position of the baby using a fetal stations scale. While some doctors use a three-point scale, others may use a five-point scale.
The majority of doctors use the more traditional five-point scale, which splits the pelvis up and down the ischial spines into fifths. These spines are located on the pelvis and when the mother is approaching labor, the baby’s head is on the same level as the ischial spines.
The scale uses the -5 to +5 measures. Each positive step forward means the baby is a centimeter closer to being born. The mother might be at a -5 scale before her baby drops and when it drops the mother might be at zero station. However, when the baby crowns, the mother might be at +5 station.
Encouraging the baby to drop
If your due date is close, but your baby has not dropped yet, you can try certain activities to encourage the descension such as:
- Walking: When you walk, it opens the hips and relaxes the pelvic muscles. Also, the help from gravity might start the lightning process.
- Squatting: If walking can open up your hips, squatting can do it even more. You can use a birthing ball to assist you with the squatting position. You can also gently rock on it.
- Pelvic tilts: You can also perform pelvic tilts to achieve the rocking motion. If you are late in pregnancy, you can get on your knees and hands and slowly tilt your pelvis forward and relax your lower back. Do it a few times.
When Does the Baby Drop? How to Know When the Baby Drops
To summarize when does the baby drop, it usually happens toward the last two months of pregnancy. However, every pregnancy is different. For some women happens a few weeks before labor and for some, it happens hours before childbirth. For first-time moms, it is more likely to happen a few weeks before childbirth.
Also, for some women, it might feel like a noticeable movement, while for others they might even feel it happen. It can be relieving for your diaphragm and stomach, but it might cause some pain in your pelvis. A normal amount of pain is alright, but intense and regular pain must be checked out by a doctor.