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Why Does My Baby Shake and Twitch in the Womb?

Medically Reviewed by Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
Updated
Learn why your baby twitches, shakes, or vibrates in the womb.

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.

In this guide, we’ll help you familiarize yourself with different movements so you can better understand what is going on in your womb and know if you need to worry.


What Causes Strange Womb Movements?

Causes of Baby Twitching in Womb

Movements in the womb can occur for many 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 (1).

  1. Stretching: As you reach your due date, your baby gradually begins to run out of room. It only makes sense your little one still wants to stretch those little arms and legs. This stretching doesn’t feel like a typical punch or kick. Stretches last longer and are sometimes stronger than kicks. You may interpret these movements as twitches, thumps, or spasms.
  2. Hiccups and more: It seems crazy to think your baby can suffer from hiccups before they are even born, but it is possible. Babies can hiccup in the womb, and this can feel like a weird sensation to you. Your baby may even hiccup at the same time each day! Some moms experience the feeling as mild vibrations, shivers, or twitches. It’s also common for babies to cough or sneeze in the womb. These sudden movements can feel pretty funny, but they shouldn’t be alarming. Thumping or jolting movements are totally normal.
  3. Muscle spasms: Your baby is still developing, and their brain is too. As the brain develops, your baby’s muscles can sometimes move involuntarily. Muscle spasms are the result. These spasms can feel like quick jolting movements.
  4. Cord movement: The amniotic fluid in your womb allows your baby to 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 is. All babies get looped in their cord at some point.
  5. 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.
  6. Irritable uterus: Irritable uterus is a condition that can cause your uterus to twitch. These painless, irregular spasms should not dilate your cervix.
  7. What you eat: The food you eat can cause your baby to react differently in the womb. Your baby may become significantly more active if you consume super cold drinks, caffeine, or sugary foods. These movements may be stronger than what you are used to, so you may consider them abnormal.

Keep It In Perspective

It’s always good to feel your baby moving. Although the movements may feel strange to you, bizarre movement is better than no movement at all.

What Does It Say About Your Baby’s Health?

It’s completely normal for your baby to move in the womb. After you reach a certain point in your pregnancy, you should feel your baby move quite often.

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, your little one is likely safe.

If you’re concerned something may be wrong with your baby, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. No one will judge a concerned mom wanting to ensure her precious cargo is safe and sound.

What is Normal?

It seems as if there is no normal when it comes to pregnancy. 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 will 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.

Remember

As long as your little one is making their presence known, it’s a good sign all is well.

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 challenging for you to establish what is normal for you, but after one pregnancy, you will be a pro for any others.

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 health care provider will have educated answers and the benefit of knowing your medical history.

Is Your Baby Moving Too Much?

If you thought the answer to this question would 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 (2).

Many of my patients’ questions involve concerns regarding fetal movement. I expect my patients to have regular fetal movement after 24 weeks of gestation. Ten distinct fetal movements in 2 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.
Headshot of Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM

Editor's Note:

Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
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The Bottom Line

Fetal movement is essential for any healthy pregnancy. That movement is the only way a mama can know how her little one is doing without being in a doctor’s office. Nothing is more reassuring than feeling those flutters or kicks.

Sometimes these motions can cause us to worry, but rarely are they a cause for concern. Your little one can cause strange movements in your womb for many reasons.

Try to rationalize what might be making your baby 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.

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Headshot of Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM

Medically Reviewed by

Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM

Caitlin Goodwin MSN, RN, CNM is a Certified Nurse-Midwife, clinical instructor and educator. She has ten years of nursing experience and enjoys blogging about family travel and autism in her free time.