Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Pregnancy: Dropping (Lightening) - Topic Overview

At the end of the third trimester, the baby settles, or drops lower, into the mother's pelvis. This is known as dropping or lightening.

Dropping is not a good predictor of when labor will begin. In first-time mothers, dropping usually occurs 2 to 4 weeks before delivery, but it can happen earlier. In women who have already had children, the baby may not drop until labor begins.

You may or may not notice a change in the shape of your abdomen after dropping. You may notice that your breathing becomes easier and heartburn occurs less frequently after dropping occurs. But the increased pressure on your bladder after dropping occurs may make you have the urge to urinate more often.

Usually the baby's head is the first (presenting) part to enter the pelvis, but the feet or a shoulder can present first.


During the last month, your doctor will estimate how far the baby's head has moved down into (engaged) the pelvis. This is measured in "stations." A baby is at -3 station when the head is above the pelvis and at 0 station when the head is at the bottom of the pelvis (fully engaged). The baby is at +3 station when the head is beginning to emerge from the birth canal (crowning).

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Pregnancy: Dropping (Lightening) Topics

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
    slideshow fetal development
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    What Causes Bipolar
    Woman trying on dress in store
    pregnant woman
    Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
    healthtool pregnancy calendar
    eddleman prepare your body pregnancy