It can be alarming if you feel your baby moving in the womb, especially if you’re unsure why.
Generally, movements can feel like a shaking motion and, if you’re further along in your pregnancy, you might even be able to see your belly shake too.
There’s no need to panic just yet though, there are actually loads of reasons that your baby might move around in the womb, and usually, it’s absolutely nothing to worry about.
Is A Baby Shaking In The Womb Normal?
There’s no clear answer to this. Yes, some movement is normal, but there’s no one size fits all method to determine how your pregnancy will go. All pregnancies are entirely different.
While some women might experience minimal movement, others might find that they have a budding soccer player cooking away and they’ll experience kicking all the time.
It entirely depends on your baby’s growth, what you eat, your genetics, and your activities. Either way, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong.
When Is It Normal To Feel Movements In The Womb?
Movements in the womb typically begin between 18-22 weeks; however, there are recorded pregnancies that display signs of movement at 16 weeks. They’ll usually begin inconsistently and less often.
This is because more movement occurs as your baby develops senses, muscles, and brain activity and starts to gain control over their body and understand the world around them.
8 Most Common Reasons For A Baby Shaking In The Womb
Yes, babies can hiccup before they’re even born. It seems odd, and it is rare, but it’s possible.
If this happens, you might experience sudden jolts every 20 seconds or so, just like when you get hiccups.
It should subside on its own after a few minutes. Some moms even experience baby hiccups at around the same time every day.
This is a normal phenomenon and is nothing to worry about at all.
Quick jolting movements are common throughout pregnancy.
Most people automatically attribute them to ‘kicking’; however, most of these, especially in the earlier stages of pregnancy, are actually muscle spasms.
As your baby’s brain develops, it strengthens the connections between bones, muscles, and nerves.
This may lead to occasional spasms that might occur over a couple of days as each muscle grows.
It might even feel a bit like your baby is shivering and will happen on and off throughout your pregnancy.
These collections of spasms are normal and a great indicator that your baby is growing as they should be.
Coughing Or Sneezing
Coughing or sneezing can also occur in the womb and usually happens in the later stages of pregnancy. Just like in adults, it’s usually nothing to worry about.
You might experience a few sudden jolts in succession, and then the movement will stop.
If you start to notice this regularly, it might be worth a trip to your obstetrician to check that your baby doesn’t have a repetitive cough.
Hearing is the first sense to develop in babies as their ears grow pretty early on in pregnancy. This means that outside noises can easily be heard.
It’s part of their learning process. However, if there are loud noises around you, they’re likely to make your baby jump just as much as they make you jump.
Obviously, your baby is more likely to be startled as they can’t see what’s happening around you.
If your baby is startled, you’ll feel a sudden jolt, just like when something surprises you. That’s nothing to worry about as long as it doesn’t happen too often.
Kicking will happen more and more throughout the duration of your pregnancy, and it’s the most common form of womb movement described by pregnant women.
You’ll be able to feel this (and sometimes see it) as just a random motion in a single spot on your belly. That’s probably where your baby’s feet are.
That’s absolutely normal and a way for you to feel your baby and start creating that incredible bond.
Don’t be alarmed if the kicking happens at the top of your belly. Your baby will move around and rotate in the womb as they grow, so it’s fine if their feet are above them in there.
You may even feel the kicking sensation against your spine occasionally if your baby has turned around.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, your baby is starting to run out of room and needs to stretch its arms and legs out.
It’s uncomfortable sitting in the same position all the time. These stretches might feel like spasms and typically last a little longer than a normal kicking sensation.
Stretching is actually a great thing; it means that your baby is almost ready to come out and meet you.
Your womb is full of amniotic fluid, which allows your baby to float around in there. This means that they’ve got plenty of room to grow and develop.
Their attachment to you is through the umbilical cord, which allows them to share all the vitamins and nutrients that you take in to allow them to develop healthily.
However, because they have that room to move and turn around in the womb, they can occasionally get caught up in the umbilical cord.
It’s completely normal, so don’t panic. Every baby gets caught in their umbilical cord at some point during pregnancy.
They should correct themselves reasonably quickly. If you start to notice any pain or severe discomfort, seek medical advice.
Having an irritable uterus is a common problem that affects many women, especially in their first pregnancy. It causes random twitching, which shouldn’t hurt or cause any discomfort.
It’s caused by the sensation of the baby touching the lining of your uterus, which sets off a reaction similar to when you’re being tickled.
Even in later stages of pregnancy, these twitches won’t dilate your uterus, and they’re typically nothing at all to worry about.
Concerns With Shaking Or Twitching In The Womb
There are all kinds of scary leaflets and advice out there that say that twitching or shaking in the womb could be a sign of your baby having a seizure.
While this is possible, it’s extremely unlikely.
Pregnant women who experience this are normally informed of having an ‘at risk’ pregnancy in advance as it’s typically down to a congenital deformity that can be spotted in the early stages of pregnancy.
If your doctor hasn’t discussed any risks with you in the early stages and you haven’t got any hereditary health conditions that you’re aware of, then it’s probably not a seizure.
What To Do If You’re Still Concerned
Typically, in the earlier stages of pregnancy, movement is completely normal, so there’s no need to do anything unless you experience pain or severe discomfort.
If you’re particularly concerned, make sure you sit still for 30 minutes.
This will reduce the stimulus that your baby is feeling inside the womb and hopefully calm them down.
Drinking icy cold water could also help to ease the baby, especially in hot temperatures.
Recognizing Patterns In Your Baby’s Movements
Baby movement is completely normal; however, it’s the pattern of that movement that you need to be particularly mindful of.
You’ll start to experience slightly erratic movements at around 18 weeks, and at 32 weeks, these will begin to become more regular and on a schedule, depending on your activities.
You might notice that your baby kicks most often while you’re in the shower, for example. This is because they can feel the water on the outside.
Once these movements have become regular and expected during the day, you need to pay attention to any discrepancy in this schedule.
If your baby stops moving for a period of longer than 2 hours, especially around the time that you’ve come to expect most movement, then contact your obstetrician to see if they can take a look.
Everything might be completely fine, but it’s still worth checking.
Remember, if you do feel any shaking and twitching in your belly while you’re pregnant, you should stay calm.
It’s probably nothing to worry about, and panicking about it is likely to worsen the medical problem if there is one.
Monitor the movement to see how often it occurs. It may just be your baby moving around, which is a good thing.
If you experience any pain with the movement, it’s best to see your doctor to make sure everything is okay.