Soon your baby may shift downward in preparation for labor.
pregnant woman side profile
Credit: ileela/

About 2-3 weeks before labor begins, you may wake up one morning and notice that your baby, who once rode so high in your abdomen that he crowded your lungs and diaphragm (and made it tough to down a sandwich without suffering a heartburn hangover), has dropped in preparation for birth. Usually called "engagement" or "lightening," this downward shift in your baby's position is the result of your uterus thinning and stretching enough to allow your baby to move deeper into your pelvic area. This doesn't always happen before labor, especially in women who have had children before. But when it does, the difference in your profile can be dramatic enough for other people to notice.

The good news about engagement is that you can breathe more easily. The bad news is that you'll have to urinate even more frequently than before because the baby's head is pressing harder against your bladder. You may also experience a low-back ache and constipation as a result of your little one being poised to make his appearance. Take heart. You haven't far to go.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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