In the birth industry, dropping is the term used to describe the moment when the baby’s head begins to descend through the birth canal and settles into the mother’s pelvis. In general, dropping is often used to describe the downward movement of the baby. This may be referred to as baby dropping or fetal dropping and is one of the signs that your body is getting ready for labor. Another term for dropping is lightening which is because when the baby moves lower, the mother’s belly feels lighter, making it easier for them to breathe. However, the increased pressure on the bladder results in the urge to urinate more frequently.
Dropping usually happens during labor, though it can sometimes happen weeks before labor begins. When this happens during labor this means that labor is progressing, and the baby is getting closer to being born. In this case, dropping is one of the three stages of labor, which are also known as the dilation and effacement stages. The other two stages are called the early and active phases of labor. Dropping is often preceded by the release of the amniotic sac, which is sometimes called water breaking.
Not all women experience dropping and some may not even know it happened until they are in active labor. If you are curious about whether or not your baby has dropped, ask your midwife or doctor. They will be able to tell you based on your cervix and the baby’s position.
Dropping can also refer to the actual act of the baby being born. This may be called “dropping” because, as the baby’s head moves through the birth canal, the body follows more quickly, often resulting in the baby being born with a sudden movement.
Other Related Terms
There are several other terms that are similar to dropping, including crowning, dilation, and effacement. Crowning is the moment when the baby’s head begins to emerge from the vagina. Dilation is the term used to describe the opening of the cervix. Effacement is the thinning of the cervix. All of these terms are related to the process of childbirth.
This image shows how often the term ‘Dropping’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:
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