Pregnancy

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6 Signs Your Baby Is Engaged & Arriving Any Minute

Like, any minute.

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You've been pregnant for more than nine months and, chances are, you're more than ready to get this show on the road. (By "show," I mean your baby and the "road" is your birth canal, obviously). As your pregnancy moves along, you'll hear more talk about the signs baby has engaged and, since you're almost there, you're probably wondering what exactly that means.

Here’s how doctors explain what it means when your baby is engaged. “Engaged or dropped means that the baby has entered into the pelvis in order to start the process of getting ready for labor,” Sarah Crimmins, DO, OB-GYN with the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, MD and an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, tells Romper. Specifically, “the dropping phenomenon, or engagement, refers to the leading part of the baby (usually the head) descending from the maternal lower abdomen into the pelvis,” Monica A. Buescher, MD., Chief of Department of OB-GYN, at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, tells Romper.

Not every pregnancy results in a dropping baby, however. Dr. Buescher also explains that babies who are traverse (sideways) cannot drop, while babies in the breech (bottom-first) position are able to drop, which makes turning them more difficult. Your doctor or midwife may help you try to turn a breech baby before they start showing signs the baby is engaged, and some people may try exercises such as yoga poses to turn a breech baby. Lastly, subsequent births may not show the same signs a baby is engaged. “Mothers having their 2nd baby (and additional babies) often do not drop until labor contractions push the baby down for good, because the head is not a tight fit (thanks to the work of the first baby stretching the maternal pelvis),” says Dr. Buescher.

With that in mind, here are some general symptoms of an engaged baby, as shared by doctors.

1

You Can Suddenly Breathe Easier

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“Perhaps the most likely sensation is that of suddenly increased ‘breathing room’ for the mother, as the baby is not so pushed up against her diaphragm once it drops,” says Dr. Buescher. “This is short-lived, however, because the baby continues to grow.” Still, anything that makes breathing easier in those final weeks is very welcome, right?

2

You Notice Pain Or Pressure On Your Pelvis

Another “sign is that they may feel some pressure in the lower part of their pelvis/vagina,” says Dr. Crimmins. This could be the sensation of the baby’s head.

3

You Need To Pee Even More Often

In some cases, increased bladder pressure or urinary frequency could mean a baby is engaged, Dr. Buescher explains. However, this could also be due to the baby’s super-rapid growth toward the end of pregnancy, in which the infant gains about a half pound per week, says Dr. Beuscher. That’s a lot of pressure on one person’s bladder.

4

You Need To Pee Even More Often

Just when you thought you had the whole peeing-every-t10-seconds situation under control, you'll suddenly have to urinate all the time. The aforementioned Healthline article noted that the increased pressure on your bladder causes you to urinate much more frequently.

5

Your Belly Feels Different

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“One sign is that their belly may feel smaller than it did a few days prior,” says Dr. Crimmins. This is one of those baby-engaged symptoms that only you would notice.

6

You Get A Physical Exam From Midwife Or Doctor

While it’s totally possible to check if the baby is engaged at home, an abdominal exam from your doctor, nurse, or midwife can get a better sense of where your baby is in the whole birth process. “Through a pelvic exam, the doctor or midwife can tell the station or position of the baby,” says Dr. Crimmins. “A ‘negative’ station means that the baby is higher up in the pelvis. A ‘positive’ station means that the baby is very well engaged in the pelvis.

Experts:

Sarah Crimmins, DO, OB-GYN with the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, MD and an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Monica A. Buescher, MD., Chief of Department of OB-GYN, at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center