Has your baby been twitching or strangely moving around in your womb lately? Are you wondering what might be causing these bizarre motions?
Babies can move in unsettling ways for a variety of reasons. Just because the movement is strange or unusual, doesn’t mean it is cause for concern. Instead of worrying, familiarize yourself with different movements so you better understand what is going on in your womb and if you need to worry.
What Causes Strange Womb Movements?
Movements in the womb can occur for many different reasons. Once your baby starts moving you will be able to distinguish a kick from other strange movements. It is reassuring to know what might be causing those other motions you’re feeling (1).
- Stretching: As you reach your due date, your baby gradually begins to run out of room. It only makes sense it still wants to stretch those little arms and legs out, and when this happens it doesn’t feel like the typical punch or kick. Stretches last longer and are sometimes stronger than kicks. You may interpret these movements as twitches, thumps, or spasms.
- Hiccups and more: It seems crazy to think your baby can actually suffer from hiccups before he or she is even born, but it is possible. Babies can hiccup in the womb and this can feel like a weird sensation to you. Some moms experience the feeling as mild vibrations, shivers, or twitches. Your baby may even hiccup at the same time each day!
It isn’t unusual for babies to cough or sneeze in the womb. These sudden movements can feel pretty funny to you, but they shouldn’t be alarming. Thumping or jolting movements are actually pretty normal.
- Muscle spasms: Your baby is still developing and this means his or her brain is too. As the brain develops, your baby’s muscles can sometimes move involuntarily. Muscle spasms are the result and, to you, that sensation can feel like quick jolting movements.
- Cord movement: The amniotic fluid in your womb allows your baby to essentially float, and the cord is doing the same. Sometimes your baby may become entangled in the cord and you may feel twitching or bizarre movements as your little one tries to wiggle free. This sounds scarier than it truly is. All babies get looped in their cord at some point.
- Startle: Your baby can already hear outside noises fairly well. Don’t be surprised if you get a quick twitch or jab at a sudden loud noise. Your baby can be easily startled and may jump if an unexpected noise occurs.
- Irritable uterus: It is possible you may have a condition called irritable uterus, which can cause your uterus to twitch (2). These painless, irregular spasms should not dilate your cervix.
- What you eat: The food you’re eating can cause your baby to react differently in the womb. If you consume super cold drinks, caffeine or sugary foods, your baby may become significantly more active. These movements may be stronger than the ones you are used to, so you may consider them abnormal.
Keep It In Perspective
What Does It say About Your Baby’s Health?
It’s completely normal for your baby to move in the womb. In fact, after you reach a certain point in your pregnancy you should feel your baby move quite often (3).
Most fetal movement is a positive sign that your baby is in good health and many doctors say an active baby is a healthy baby. Embrace all those movements whether they are hiccups, muscle spasms, or punches.
Can The Twitching Be A Seizure?
Many moms are afraid the twitching they feel in their womb could be their baby having a seizure.
We don’t want to say this is impossible, but it is extremely rare. Fetal seizures rarely occur and if they do, it is typically due to a congenital anomaly.
Doctors are usually able to inform moms with at-risk pregnancies of the possibility of their unborn baby having a seizure. If your doctor has not mentioned this to you, it is probably likely your little one is safe.
If you’re concerned something may not be right with your baby, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. No one will judge an anxious mom wanting to make sure her precious cargo is safe and sound.
What is Normal?
It seems as if when it comes to pregnancy, there is no normal. Every pregnancy is unique and every woman may experience things in a completely different way.
There are so many things you will endure when you’re pregnant that are going to feel far from normal, but they will be just fine.
Movement is normal. You want to feel your baby moving around your womb. This movement may be sudden, sharp, or rhythmic — but it’s movement.
You may experience random sequences of movement that are abnormal compared to the rest, but this doesn’t immediately mean something is wrong.
If this is your first pregnancy it may be more difficult and tricky for you to try to establish what is normal for you, but after one pregnancy, you will be a pro for the rest.
Pregnancy is all about trusting your body. No one knows what you are experiencing better than you do.
The internet may have advice, but your OB provider will have the educated answers and the benefit of knowing your particular medical history (4).
Is Your Baby Moving Too Much?
If you thought the answer to this question was going to be yes, then you must have one healthy baby.
Babies who move around a lot are said to be very healthy. Movement is good! There is no medical boundary that determines your baby moves too much.
Fetal movement is a sign of good health and should be welcomed with open arms. Even if it means enduring an internal boxing match at 3 in the morning (5).
Many of my patient’s questions involve concerns regarding fetal movement. I expect my patients to have regular fetal movement after 24 weeks gestation. Ten distinct fetal movements in two hours is usually a reassuring sign of fetal well-being. While your baby’s movements plateau around the 32nd week of pregnancy, movements do not decrease in the third trimester. If you notice a decrease in your baby’s movements at any point, you should notify your doctor or midwife.
Editor's Note:Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
The Bottom Line
Fetal movement is important for any pregnancy. The only way a momma can know how her little one is doing without being in a doctor’s office is by that movement. Nothing is more reassuring than feeling those flutters or kicks.
Sometimes these motions can cause us to worry, but very rarely is it a cause for concern. Your little one can cause strange movements to occur in your womb for a variety of reasons.
Try to rationalize what might be making your little one respond differently before you immediately assume the worst.
You know your body and baby best, so if you feel like something isn’t right — don’t hesitate to seek assistance.
Did your baby have some strange moves when you were pregnant? How did you deal with it? If you know a soon-to-be parent who can benefit from this article, please give it a share!