Pregnancy: Dropping (Lightening)

Pregnancy: Dropping (Lightening)

Topic Overview

At the end of the third trimester, the baby settles, or drops lower, into the mother's pelvis. This is known as dropping or lightening.

Dropping is not a good predictor of when labor will begin. In first-time mothers, dropping usually occurs 2 to 4 weeks before delivery, but it can happen earlier. In women who have already had children, the baby may not drop until labor begins.

You may or may not notice a change in the shape of your abdomen after dropping. You may notice that your breathing becomes easier and heartburn occurs less frequently after dropping occurs. But the increased pressure on your bladder after dropping occurs may make you have the urge to urinate more often.

Usually the baby's head is the first (presenting) part to enter the pelvis, but the feet or a shoulder can present first.

Station

During the last month, your doctor will estimate how far the baby's head has moved down into (engaged) the pelvis. This is measured in "stations." A baby is at –3 station when the head is above the pelvis and at 0 station when the head is at the bottom of the pelvis (fully engaged). The baby is at +3 station when the head is beginning to emerge from the birth canal (crowning).

Related Information

Credits

Current as ofSeptember 5, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.