Pelvic Pressure Signs of Labor

Beautiful pregnant woman holding her back while sitting on a bed
A pregnant woman sitting on a bed holding her lower abdomen. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

As a pregnant woman’s body prepares for labor, many changes occur internally to ensure that her baby shifts into the proper position. Unborn babies descend into the pelvis in preparation for labor and delivery, which can cause their mothers to experience several new signs and symptoms. Pelvic pressure and its related signs are an indication that labor will occur in the coming days or weeks.

Pressure

The University of Kentucky explains that when an unborn baby drops into the pelvis, his mother usually experiences a discernible sensation of pressure in her pelvic area. Some women report that this sensation feels like the baby’s head is pressing down; other women report that they experience a feeling that their babies may fall out once they have dropped. The pressure sensation may also feel like a bowel movement needs to occur. It can be quite uncomfortable depending on how low the baby is and may get better or worse depending on the mother’s position and activity level.

Increased Urination

Frequency of urination increases when an unborn baby descends into his mother's pelvis. The pressure of the baby in the pelvis also puts pressure on related and nearby organs such as the bladder. The University of Cincinnati notes that this added pressure can also cause bladder leakage in addition to the need to urinate more often.

Change in Appearance

When pelvic pressure occurs owing to an unborn baby’s engagement in the pelvis, his mother’s belly takes on a new appearance. The roundness that was higher and closer to the lungs before engagement shifts, causing the belly to look like it has dropped.

Ease in Breathing

Despite the discomfort that pelvic pressure can bring, one benefit is that a mother is able to breathe more easily. When an unborn baby descends into the pelvis, the lungs and diaphragm have more room, which helps eliminate shortness of breath and difficulty breathing that pregnant women frequently experience, notes the University of Minnesota.

Dilation

Cervical dilation occurs when the changing position of an unborn baby creates pelvic pressure intense enough to cause the cervix to thin and open. These changes usually occur through contractions, which increase the amount of pressure placed on the cervix. The lower a baby is in his mother's pelvis, the more pressure the mother will feel as dilation occurs.

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