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34 weeks

How Will I Know When My Baby Drops?

Everyone keeps telling me to look out for baby “dropping,” but how will I be able to tell?

For most of your pregnancy, baby sort of swims around from one side of your uterus to the other. But at the 33- or 34-week mark, he’ll likely start to move permanently into the “head down” position to prep for labor, and descend further into your pelvis. Many women recognize when it happens because there’s an almost immediate sense of relief: The constant pressure on your stomach and lungs might suddenly lift, and you might get a break from heartburn and shortness of breath. It can be a pretty big visual difference for some women too — you could suddenly go from “carrying high” to having your bump centered much lower in your torso.

When baby drops, you might also feel more discomfort farther down, plus need to make even more frequent trips to the bathroom since the baby’s now taking up more room near your bladder, as well as more pressure in the pelvic area. Once baby’s dropped, it’s a good sign that all systems are ready to go. But know that baby might not actually drop until you’re already in labor.

Plus, more from The Bump:

What are signs of labor? 

Tool: Birth Plan 

Checklist: Packing a Hospital Bag 

By Michele Hakakha, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, California