‘Dropping’ is the term given to the point at which a pregnant woman’s bump appears lower, usually because baby has dropped into the birth canal and engaged. Many women wonder when they should expect their belly to drop and worry if they haven’t dropped near their estimated due date. Here’s a guide to telling when baby has engaged and what it means for you and baby.
When does your belly normally drop?
It can happen anywhere between mid pregnancy and mid labor.
Some women ‘drop’ as early as 25 weeks, while others may not drop till after labor actually starts.
Does your belly need to drop before labor starts?
Nope! In fact you probably don’t want your belly to drop. Why? Because women whose babies engage early find that they are a lot more uncomfortable, often in pain and unable to maintain their full range of movement because baby is sitting so low in their pelvis.
Some women find baby doesn’t engage till after the first few contractions then have a 4-6 hour labor. Other women may have a baby that engages at 32 weeks yet go on to have a 30 hour labor. Dropping doesn’t necessarily impact when, how or length of labor.
What are signs that you have dropped and baby has engaged?
- Lightening. This is the term used to describe the feeling when you can eat more and breathe better, due to baby not pushing against your organs to the same extent.
- Sore pelvis. Often baby’s head can be right down in your pelvis, which can put extra weight on your pelvis and your ligaments and cause pain.
- Feeling like the baby will ‘drop out’. Feel like every time you sit, you’re sitting on baby’s head, and every time you stand, that baby is going to drop out? Don’t worry, baby won’t drop out, but this is a common sign that baby has engaged right down in your pelvis.
- Unable to close your legs. Some women find that the extra pressure in their pelvis makes it impossible or painful to close their legs.
- Increased need to urinate. Because of the extra weight on your bladder, you may need to pee even more often than usual.
- Your belly appears to be sitting lower. In some cases, your belly may sit noticeably lower. However some women carry low, even when baby isn’t engaged.