Women usually talk about the baby “dropping” when discussing their third trimester. However, the whole thing can be a bit mysterious if you’ve never experienced it yourself. More importantly, most women are not sure when does baby drops. It is important to know everything you can about baby dropping.
The important thing to know is that once your baby drops your body starts getting ready for labor. Also, your family and friends will probably be able to notice that your baby dropped. But, you have to know what exactly happens before and after the drop. Besides, being able to predict when it is going to happen can be beneficial too.
What is Baby Dropping?
If you are not familiar with the topic you might find the baby dropping term to be quite shocking. Dropping a baby can’t be anything good.
However, it is a natural occurrence in the context of pregnancy. The drop will happen once your baby starts getting ready for birth, usually at the end of the third semester. Your baby’s head will start moving down lower into your pelvis once it is ready and this is what people refer to as the “drop.” From there, your baby will be in a position to start moving through the birth canal.
You might feel relief in your upper torso when this happens. Once the drop happens there will be a lot less compression on your internal organs like the stomach and lungs. This is why moms usually find it easier to eat more comfortably and breathe deeply after the baby drops.
Some moms also refer to this condition as “lightening” due to the benefits it has on them.
What Happens After the Drop?
Once you are sure when does baby drop, you should start getting ready for what comes after the drop. Your baby has a lot of room to move around in your early pregnancy. Babies usually flip, turn, and twist regularly and you can feel it most of the time.
Your child will begin to run out of space as it grows. Stretching, rotating, and kicking will become a daily routine and you will notice its activity.
Your uterus, internal organs, and your rib cage will start restricting your baby’s movement as it gets bigger. It will start to run out of room to move around.
Getting into position for labor will come at some point near the end of your pregnancy, as already mentioned. If everything is fine, your baby’s head will be pointed downwards, facing your back. Your child will begin to move down into the pelvis once it is in an optimal position.
The position of your baby in the pelvis is measured in stations:
- +3 station: baby is crowning, its head is proceeding through the birth canal
- 0 station: the head of your baby is located in the pelvis
- -3 station: the head of your baby is still above the pelvis
Checking whether your baby has dropped can be done through a vaginal exam. You can ask for this to be done at the same time you check your cervical effacement and dilation. Ask for these exams if you suspect you are in labor or during your prenatal visits during the final month of your pregnancy. Don’t be afraid to do the vaginal examination even if it makes you uncomfortable, it is always better to get checked.
If the doctor that’s examining you can feel your baby high up in the pelvis your child is still at -3 station. One number is added for each approximate centimeter your baby descends into the pelvis. So, your baby will have to go through -2 and -1 station too.
Considering full engagement is only possible once your baby is solidly positioned in the pelvis. So, if you have to explain to someone when does baby drop, just say that it happens when a baby is in the 0 stations.
Expecting Your Baby to Drop
The exact time of the baby drop will vary drastically between mothers. However, mothers who already delivered a baby before tend to drop their babies later than first-time mothers. It is really hard to determine exactly when does baby drops.
You can expect that baby dropping will happen about 2-4 weeks before labor begins if this is your first pregnancy. However, if you feel your baby has dropped don’t think that the labor will start immediately since lightening is not a reliable indicator.
Lightening may not even be noticeable during your third trimester if you’ve delivered a baby before. The statistics show that mothers who already gave birth have babies who tend to wait until active labor has begun before they drop.
Can You Predict the Drop?
Unfortunately, you are not able to predict the baby dropping correctly. However, once you start feeling contractions you can be sure that your baby is trying to get down into your pelvis.
Braxton Hicks contractions don’t cause your cervix to dilate and that’s why they are not very effective at progressing labor. However, they do help your baby to get into position a bit. You can be sure that Braxton Hick’s contraction will help your uterus to warm up for labor, but also will accomplish a lot more than that. Getting baby into place is an important part of their role.
How Long Does it Take to Drop?
Don’t be afraid of baby dropping. It may sound dramatic, sudden, and quick, but the process of lightening is not like that. However, it may happen in just a few seconds. But, it usually happens throughout a few weeks.
As already mentioned, first-time moms can expect that their baby will drop a couple of weeks before birth. These moms may also notice that their baby will go slowly through stations week after week. On the other hand, women who already gave birth can have different expectations. In these situations, babies usually remain high and then quickly descend completely during labor in one swift contraction.
How Does a Baby Drop Feel Like?
Once your baby drops you probably won’t experience any noticeable symptoms, especially if it doesn’t happen quickly and suddenly. However, you will probably notice lightening at some point which will tell you that the drop has happened. Don’t be surprised if your baby drops completely and immediately even if you are a first-time mom.
You might experience Braxton hicks contractions regularly but there might be no associated pain. Abdominal tightening is common and you can maybe experience only that. However, you may experience a strong tightening in an area after a few weeks and a sort of physical relief. The birth might not happen even a few weeks after this, so don’t panic.
On the other hand, some babies don’t drop until the moment they are ready to get out of the womb. Some moms experience their water breaking and hard contractions in the pelvis simultaneously. A body then starts to push out a baby uncontrollably. Your baby might not descend even a little before this, so don’t be surprised in this case either.
Mothers rarely talk about the lightening process even though each mother’s experience varies. Don’t hesitate to ask your friends about their experiences with this so you can be sure when does baby drop and what to do afterward. Just relax, lie down, read a book, and wait for the drop to happen.
Baby Dropping Symptoms
There are a few things that will get better for you when your baby drops. You will notice changes even though you might not be able to predict when the lightening will happen. Here are some changes you will notice once your baby drops:
- Breathing will be a lot easier for you.
- You will probably have to pee more often.
- You may be able to eat more
- You may have less heartburn (if you experience it during pregnancy)
- Your belly might start looking visibly lower
- You may have more discharge
- You may start swaddling
- You will probably experience increased pelvic pain
- Increased contractions will happen every day
All of these symptoms are what young moms refer to as “lightning.” Once you start noticing any of these you may consider that your baby has dropped and that it is getting ready for labor. Don’t be afraid since it will take weeks before you give birth to your child. These symptoms can be unpredictable, so don’t be surprised if you feel a sudden drop.
Baby Planet Overview
Baby dropping is something you will have to experience if you are carrying a child. Whether it happens weeks after birth or just moments before your baby starts coming out, don’t be afraid and don’t be surprised. It is normal and your baby needs to get to your pelvis to get into position to get out of your womb.
Don’t be afraid to do a vaginal exam to check whether your baby has already dropped if you have some doubts. Your doctor will be able to provide you with an adequate answer and you will know what are your next steps.