Baby Dropping – When Does It Happen and What Should You Do?

Pregnant woman on a bed

Pregnancy is a time when your body goes through a whole lot of changes. It can be confusing and make you anxious, especially if it is your first pregnancy. As the end of your pregnancy approaches, your body starts to prepare itself for labour and delivery. Your baby dropping is one of the signs that the time is fast approaching. There are some signs to watch out for and knowing all about these will help you prepare yourself better.

Why Do Babies Drop?

When somebody mentions baby dropping, it might scare you. But it actually means ‘Lightening’. Lightening is the term used for baby dropping which means your labour time is approaching. As the labour approaches, baby drops into the pelvis in an effort to get into the best position within the uterus to pass easily through the birth canal. This helps stretch your pelvic muscles ahead of labour.

When are Babies More Likely To Drop?

Baby dropping or lightening during pregnancy can happen anytime between 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy in first-time pregnancies. In later pregnancies, the baby might not drop until labour has started. If you are wondering whether it can be predicted in which week does the baby drop, then you must know that it is not an accurate science. There are no strict timelines as to when this might occur, and in some instances, it might be prior to four weeks before the labour starts.

A pregnant woman looking at her belly

Signs of Lightening Pregnancy

Each case of pregnancy is unique and the time of lightening, and the signs that may accompany it will vary. However, if you are pondering about what does it feel like when the baby drops, the following are some common indications:

  1. Frequent Urination:
    The pressure is likely to move to your lower abdomen from the upper part, especially on the bladder.  As the baby’s head lowers on your bladder, it results in more pressure on it. So, your trips to the bathroom will be more.
  2. Easier to Breathe:
    As the baby drops into your pelvis, the pressure on your diaphragm lessens. The shortness of breath that you had been experiencing earlier will no more be an issue once the baby drops. Breathing process will soon be back to normal again.
  3. Improved Appetite:
    When the baby drops, the pressure on the stomach is eased significantly. This means that you will be able to eat more than you did at the beginning of the third trimester.
    A pregnant woman drinking juice
  4. Baby Bump Changes:
    After your baby’s head moves into the pelvis, it is likely to seem as if your stomach is hanging lower. When you sit down, you will be able to feel the baby more.
  5. Lower Back Pain:
    When baby starts to get heavier and slides down your abdomen finally settling in the pelvis, you will experience lower back pain more frequently.
  6. Increase in Vaginal Discharge:
    The pressure caused by baby dropping in your pelvis will lead to thinning of your cervix and cause dilation. This will lead to the mucus plug being gradually expelled causing heavier discharge.

Though these signs of baby dropping during pregnancy tell you that your delivery is approaching it is not a clear-cut indicator of exactly when labour will start.

If you are only 35 weeks pregnant and are experiencing symptoms of baby dropping, you need not worry about it. However, do consult with your doctor if you feel that something is wrong.

What Should You Do?

If you are nearing your due date and baby still hasn’t dropped, there are a few things that you could try to help. But these should be done only after at least 36 weeks of pregnancy and after you have consulted your doctor.

  1. Increase Physical Activity:
    Don’t do anything too strenuous, but increasing the number of walks each day can make the baby move and pressurise the cervix. But watch out for Braxton-Hicks or false labour contractions which is sometimes triggered by walking.
  1. Mind How You Sit:
    Do not sit cross-legged as it can push the baby back up. Instead, you can sit with your knees spread open and lean forward to coax the baby to move down.
  2. Try a Birthing Ball: Using a birthing ball can give you some relief from back pain while assisting the baby to move into the pelvis. It can also increase blood flow to the baby.
    A pregnant woman on a birthing ball
  3. Go for an Ankle Massage: There are specific pressure points in the body that are thought to instigate labour. Besides ankle massage, back massages can also help in inducing labour.
  1. Do Some Squats:
    Doing squats can help widen your pelvic opening and ease the baby downwards while strengthening your legs and hips for delivery. However, do not start off with squats if you have not been exercising during the pregnancy.
  1. Try Swimming:
    Use the backstroke to swim with your belly up or simply float on your back. If you have pelvic pain, don’t do breaststrokes.
  1. Avoid Sitting for Long:
    If your job involves sitting on a chair for a long period of time, be sure to take frequent breaks during work hours. You could just stretch your legs a bit every hour or so to encourage the baby to drop.

If your baby has dropped, then be sure to visit your doctor for a check-up. This will help your doctor to adjust the due date accordingly and give you a tentative estimation of when labour is likely to start. After baby drops, it is just a matter of days before you will get to hold your little one.

Disclaimer: This information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.

Also Read: Signs of a Healthy and Unhealthy Baby in the Womb