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Pregnancy: Dropping (Lightening)

Overview

At the end of the third trimester, the fetus settles, or drops lower, into your pelvis. This is known as dropping. It may also be called lightening.

If you have never delivered a baby, dropping usually occurs 2 to 4 weeks before delivery, but it can happen earlier. If you have delivered a baby in the past, the fetus may not drop until labor begins.

The shape of your belly may change after dropping. It may be easier to breathe, and you may have less heartburn. You may feel the need to urinate more often because of the pressure on your bladder.

Usually the fetus's head is the first (presenting) part to enter your pelvis. But the feet or a shoulder can present first.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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