Here's What Really Happens When Your Baby "Drops"

It’s common for women to notice a big change in their belly's position as they get closer to the end of their third trimester. Also known as baby dropping, this phenomenon can make you feel some discomfort, occasionally resulting in comments from strangers in Target about your belly. So, what does it mean when your baby drops? You might be surprised to find out it’s actually pretty exciting.

In a nutshell, your baby dropping is a major cue that your pregnancy is coming to an end, according to Healthline. This is your body's way of preparing for birth, although it doesn't automatically mean labor is about to begin. Instead, according to WebMD, your baby dropping tells your body that it's time to prepare for labor, and that your baby’s head will soon descend downward into your pelvis. This is what gives the appearance that your baby and, subsequently, your belly has dropped.

The aforementioned Healthline article noted that, while some women’s babies drop a few hours or days before labor, others will drop several weeks before labor. Just as pregnancy, labor, and birth is a process, so is your baby dropping. What exactly happens or how quickly things move after your baby drops is dependent on each mom-to-be.

When your baby drops, the doctors measure the station of the baby's head, which is how many centimeters it is above or below your mid-pelvis, according to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The highest station is -5 centimeters and the lowest is +5 centimeters. When your baby is at her highest that means her head is above your hips; the lowest station would signify that your baby’s head is out of your body. These stations show what’s happening after your baby drops and continues to descend into the pelvis.

After your baby drops and is positioned for labor, their head begins to move downward. Your baby may drop to a 0 or lower before you even go into active labor, and the further your baby drops the more of the “belly drop” appearance you’ll see.

Luckily, there are plenty of signs your baby has dropped, and you’ll begin to notice when your baby’s head is going further into your pelvis. Even though you can never be positive when your baby will drop, it happens to every expecting mom towards the end. Knowing what happens when your baby drops can help ease your mind and let you know that the pressure, lower belly appearance, and the feeling of your baby lowering into your pelvis is totally normal. It likely means you’re very close to the end, and hopefully you can take some comfort in feeling your body prep for labor.