Skip to Content
Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Pregnancy: Dropping (Lightening)
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
Usually the baby's head is the first (presenting) part to enter the
pelvis, but the feet or a shoulder can present first.
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
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofMay 22, 2015
Current as of:
May 22, 2015
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Send Us Your Feedback
North Kansas City Hospital