What does engagement of my baby’s head mean?

Engagement of a Baby's HeadYour baby’s head is technically engaged when the widest diameter of the head passes through the brim of your pelvis. A pregnant woman will often know this because of a very intense feeling of fullness in her pelvis and feeling the baby “having dropped”. By that she is aware the height of the baby in her abdominal cavity is less, she may have less heartburn, etc

Sometimes a baby’s can be engaged one day and not the next. It all has to do with the relationship between the size and position of your baby’s head, the size and shape of your pelvis and how firm your uterus is in pushing your baby’s head into your pelvis in pregnancy.

In your second and subsequent pregnancy the uterus is often “looser” and so there is often no reason for your baby’s head to be engaged before you are in labour


When does engagement happen?

It is a common phenomenon at the end of the first pregnancy (36 weeks on) and is a positive sign that labour could start soon.

Your baby’s head does not need to be engaged for you to go into labour. For the majority of women this is the case – the baby’s head is not engaged in the pelvis.

If your baby’s head remains very high at term then it may be that it is a concerning sign that your baby’s head may not fit easily through the birth canal during labour. This could mean a more difficult and prolonged labour or else even an obstructed labour which would mean a Caesarean section.

Close application of the foetal head to the cervix will help the cervix to ripen for the onset of labour. Alternatively, if the foetal head is very high and not well applied to the cervix then it is more likely for a woman to go overdue with an unfavourable cervix.

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