The last few weeks of pregnancy bring excitement and many changes as your body prepares for labor.
One of the important steps for your baby is when they get into your pelvic position. When your baby is near the birth canal, it’s called an engagement.
This article discusses what it means to be involved, when to get involved, the signs, and whether you can help encourage it.
What is an engagement?
Your health care provider will monitor your baby’s position during the last few appointments before you give birth. Routine ultrasounds and physical exams can help them check how your baby is moving into the delivery position.
The engaged position is when your baby’s head enters your pelvis. You may have heard this called your baby dropping or “brightening.”
Your healthcare provider may also call this a baby station. The stage of the station is from -5 to 0 to 5 and is defined as:
- -5: This is the farthest position from the ischial spine of the pelvis.
- 0: This is where the fetal head is in line with the sciatic spine.
- 5: In this position, your baby’s head is high and your medical team can see.
If your baby is in a breech position, their hips and legs will be in an engaged position, not their head. But even if your baby begins to descend in breech position, they may still turn around before labor begins.
What does it mean
Many believe that when a baby is involved, it’s a sign that labor is about to begin. However, the timing of a baby’s fall varies from person to person. Even for the same person, their baby may be involved at different times in each pregnancy.
Babies may begin participating in the process two to four weeks before labor begins.
Some babies won’t come into engagement until labor begins, so if your baby isn’t engaged, there’s no reason to worry. Many pregnant women deliver healthy babies without bowing their heads before labor begins.
It’s not always easy to tell when your baby is involved. It feels like you wake up one day with a small belly, but it’s a gradual process that happens over time. However, if your back is high, you may notice that your baby will drop more.
Signs your baby is involved include:
- Lower Abdominal Position: Some moms notice that their baby bump lowers and leans forward slightly after the baby is involved.
- Easier breathing: As your baby descends, you may notice less pressure on your lungs and diaphragm, making it easier for you to take larger breaths.
- Increased urge to urinate: Your bladder may feel more pressure when your baby is in a lower position.
- Reduces heartburn and indigestion: Reduced pressure, so you may notice less pressure in your stomach, making eating more comfortable and heartburn less.
- Uncomfortable walking: Increased pressure around the pelvis, joints, and muscles may feel slightly sore. You may also feel yourself staggering more.
- Pelvic discomfort: The increased pressure may make you feel more uncomfortable and painful. The extra pressure on the cervix can cause a sharp shooting pain in your pelvis.
- Back pain: The entire area around the pelvis and lower back can be affected by changes in position. As a result, your lower back muscles may also feel extra soreness or pain.
- Constipation: Increased pressure from the junction can also affect your bowel and bowel regularity. Some women report an increase in constipation at the end of pregnancy.
- Hemorrhoids: The veins in the pelvis may also start to feel extra pressure from your baby in the junction. This can cause new hemorrhoids to appear or worsen existing ones.
If you’re nearing your delivery date and your baby isn’t involved, you may be wondering if you can help them get in place. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that there is an effective way to help your baby get involved.
Some things are beyond your control. If your baby isn’t engaged, you haven’t done anything wrong. If you want to do something to try and attract your baby, anecdotal evidence suggests the following may help:
- Pelvic tilt
Remember, there is no scientific evidence that these methods will work. Talk to your healthcare provider about activities that are right for you.
When your baby is near the birth canal, it’s called an engagement. This could be a sign that labor is imminent, so talk to your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms.
When the baby’s head reaches the engagement position, they are in the delivery position. They may be in place two to four weeks before delivery. Still, sometimes the baby doesn’t get into the engaged position until labor begins.
Unfortunately, you have little control over when this happens. This is a natural and gradual process.
If your baby is involved early or waits until before delivery, there is usually no reason to worry. Discuss any concerns you have with your healthcare provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
After the baby is dropped, how long does it take to start labor?
It can take two to four weeks for the birthing process to begin after the baby is dropped or brought into engagement. However, this length of time will vary from person to person. In some cases, the baby may not participate until before delivery.
What is fetal position?
Fetal stand is the term that describes the position of the presenting part of the baby in the pelvis. The presenting part of the baby, or the part that enters the birth canal first, can be the head, shoulders, buttocks, or feet.
Is constipation a sign of labor?
Yes, constipation can be a sign of labor. In some women, a baby that gets into the junction can affect their bowels and bowels, causing constipation.