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Birth Terminology Explained: Lightening

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Birth Terminology Explained: Lightening
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Lightening Explained

Lightening is a term used in pregnancy to describe the sensation of the baby’s head dropping lower into the woman’s pelvis prior to labor and birth. Lightening is also referred to as “dropping” or “engagement.”

What is Lightening?

Lightening is when the baby’s head drops lower into the woman’s pelvis in preparation for delivery. This typically occurs in the third trimester, although for some women it may be earlier. As the baby moves down, the woman may feel a pressure in her pelvis and relief in her abdomen. Additionally, the urge to pee more frequently and difficulty breathing due to the pressure on her lungs may occur.

Benefits of Lightening

Lightening has its advantages. It can help the baby to settle into the correct position for birth, increase the woman’s mobility, and prepare the body for labor and delivery. Additionally, it can provide some relief to a woman’s aching back.

Signs of Lightening

Signs of lightening include:

  • Increased Urination – Pressure on the bladder can cause the woman to urinate more frequently.
  • Change in Baby’s Movements – As the baby moves into the pelvis, their movements may become less frequent, but more intense.
  • Size Change – The woman’s abdomen may look and feel lower and the size of the baby’s head can be felt more easily.

If you think you are experiencing lightening, contact your health care provider for more information.

Lightening is a normal part of the pregnancy process and is an exciting and welcome development for many women. Understanding the signs and benefits of lightening can help the pregnant woman prepare for labor and the birth of her baby.

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