There are many signs to look out for when you are waiting for labor to begin. You may lose your mucus plug, your water may break, you may notice an increase of vaginal discharge or spot the bloody show. If you are a first time mom, you may also experience something known as lightening up to four weeks before delivery. Second time moms typically see their babies “drop” much later, sometimes after labor has already gotten started.
Dropping is a really good sign: it means the baby has engaged the presenting part (head) into the pelvis. When this happens, the baby drops out of the rib cage area, making it easier to breath. Sometimes this is visible from the outside. Your belly may actually drop a few inches! An easy way to tell for the mother-to-be is to look for her belly button. After the baby drops, often the belly button is just out of view from the top. Some women describe the sensation of their baby being “right between the legs.” The shift in gravity causes the classic pregnant woman waddle. Another great perk of lightening: more room to eat! The pressure on your stomach is relieved a little bit, allowing you to enjoy your meals once again. Unfortunately, this also means pressure on your bladder is increased.
If you experience lightening, don’t call the doctor just yet. It’s important to remember that the baby can engage and then disengage repeatedly. Sometimes, the baby drops in stages. I remember waking up one morning and seeing that my belly was visibly lower. Even my husband noticed it. Then one Sunday morning, I felt a huge downward shift and realized my son had moved even further down! He ended up dropping and popping back out 2 or 3 times. Talk about a tease!