Pregnancy is simply incredible. As expecting moms, we often pay close attention to every single detail that’s happening with our babies. One such experience that often leaves us curious is the sensation of our babies shaking in the womb.
In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind this topic, and answer every doubt you have.
Why does it feel like baby is shaking in womb?
During the course of pregnancy, you may often encounter various sensations and movements emanating from your womb. A common one is the feeling of the baby shaking or vibrating.
There are various reasons why you experience this… Let’s explore them;
One of the common instances where you can feel your baby shaking in the womb is when it moves. It makes these movements randomly and they can range from stretches, turns, hiccups, kicks, sneezes and even coughs.
The differences in these movements regarding their pace and strength could make it feel like he or she is twitching or vibrating.
As your baby grows and the uterus becomes crowded, he or she is likely to make stronger movements and kicks that would also cause mild sensations, feeling like vibrations, shivers or twitches.
While these sensations might be breathtaking initially, they are very normal and indicate a positive sign that your baby is very healthy and active.
Braxton Hicks contractions
These contractions are tightening in the abdomen that lasts shortly. They usually come one after another and will cause mild cramping sensation during the third trimester, usually.
The Braxton Hicks contractions do not generally imply that your baby is shaking, but some women usually misinterpret these contractions as such since they feel intense, and cause their abdomen to harden.
Some women also report that they feel like their baby is pushing against the sides or front of the uterus during these contractions. This can perhaps be also misinterpreted as shaking.
They contractions are normal, they are the body’s own way of preparing for the actual labor, and they do not have any direct effect on you.
Reflex action such as Moro reflex in babies, are involuntary motor responses. They often develop in infants shortly after birth. However, while in the womb, babies can experience a Moro reflex as their nervous systems are developing, and this could be described as a feeling of seizure.
This might cause some pregnant women to think that their baby’s reflexive movements, like spasms or sudden splaying of arms, as shaking in the womb.
Although reflex actions like the Moro reflex may cause you to feel the sensation of your baby shaking in your womb, it is important to remember that these movements often show the baby’s healthy development, and aren’t an aspect of an active baby.
Your Baby experiences hiccups involuntarily. And it can make you feel as if is shaking in your womb because of the rhythmic sensation it makes. It even worsens when his whole body is involved. But this is typically normal, and not a cause for concern.
Irritable uterus (IU)
This is a condition characterized by contractions, and can make you feel as if your baby is shaking in the womb. It occurs in your uterus when the muscles in there tighten in an abnormal pattern, often leading to painful contractions.
However, these sensations may be misinterpreted with the feeling of the baby shaking. You may also mistaken it for real labor contractions sometimes.
Baby practicing breathing
During the third trimester, baby starts practising breathing. This may create sensations in your womb that often feels like he’s shaking. This sensation emanates because his or her diagphram moves up and down rhythmically which will cause the surrounding amniotic fluid to move too.
So, the movement of fluid plus the baby’s diagphram movement will generate the vibration that you may obviously perceive to be twitching or shaking.
Nervous system development
As your baby’s nervous system develops, they start to explore newfound motor skills and experiments with various movements. These movements create a sensation that feels like he’s shaking.
In most cases, this is the reason you’d have your stomache shake even in the early phases of pregnancy, because nervous develops early and continues almost throughout your journey. This process helps your baby gain enough control over his body and learn to coordinate their movements.
As the nervous system develops, his ability to move improves too. He’ll be stretching, kicking and punching you. Additionally, they may start to develop reflex movements such as sucking their thumbs or grasping objects, all of which will cause feeling of shaking in the womb.
What does it say about your baby’s health?
While this feeling of shaking and vibration may cause you to wonder and worry, it should indicate the opposite. You should be glad to hear your baby makes these movements because it shows it’s doing well.
It indicates that your baby is healthy and active. And shouldn’t be a cause for concern. The development of movements like kicks, jabs and rolls is a sign that your baby’s nervous system is developing as it should. It’s encouraging to know that your baby is active and engaging their muscles in preparation for life outside the womb.
However, If movements you’re feeling are very intense, occurring in a pattern or if they’re causing you significant discomfort, it’s important to see your OB/GYN. Unusual pattern or changes in your baby’s routine activity level can indicate medical issue needing attention and hence, should be reported to your doctor asap.
Can the shaking be a seizure? What do baby seizures feel like in the womb?
Seizures are rare in pregnancy, and they occur in extreme cases. According to a case report published on PubMed, forceful, jerky and periodic fetal movements can be associated to seizure.
They can feel like sudden or spasms in your womb. And present as prolonged episodes of decreased movement where the baby is very quiet or still, as well as repetitive and rhythmic motions that feel like tapping or pulsing.
These seizure-like movements occur repeatedly and usually involving the whole body of the fetus and are typically related to congenital abnormalities.
The probability of your baby shaking in the womb being seizure-related is very low.
Is your baby’s movement too much? What should be the normal?
The normal amount of baby movements can vary for each pregnancy. Most expectant mothers can feel their baby’s movements, known as quickening, around 18th to 22nd week in the journey.
While this is the average timeframe, it is still possible to feel it earlier probably within the 14th week, and it can continue till later, around the 26th week.
We do not have a specific standard for the number of fetal movements because the frequency and strength differ on some factors like baby’s age and the gender.
There are some sources that recommend an approach called “kick counting”, where you count the number of kicks or movements you feel from your baby within a certain time period.
This technique can be very valuable to monitor your baby’s health. If you’re looking to read more on kicki counting, then you can read it here.
I’ve always encouraged my patients and readers to be aware of their baby’s movements, as feeling consistent motion is a sign that the fetus is growing in size and strength.
If you’re also wondering whether the feeling of vibrations in your womb is normal or abnormal (possibility of a seizure), then you can refer to the chart below;
What are the differences between Normal baby movements and a seizure?
|Normal baby movements||Baby seizures|
|Gentle kicks, flutters, or swishes||Repetitive, jerky movements|
|Rolls, and squirms||Movements occurring several times a minute|
|Movements are usually random||Consistent or periodic fetal movement|
|Usually located in the lower abdomen at first||Abnormal muscle contractions that comes with intense pains (spastic fetal movements)|
|Increases in frequency and strength as pregnancy progresses||Rapid and forceful fetal movement|
|Often triggered by changing positions, eating or drinking, noise or touch||Sudden, abnormal activity when the baby is triggered by sound, touch, or physical stimulation|
|Typically follows a predictable pattern of frequency and intensity||Rythmic and frequent movements that differ from usual baby kicks|
Of course, I’ve been there, and I know how these feelings can be intense sometimes but it is a standard part of the pregnancy. The feel of shaking in the womb, are mostly harmless, and that’s an excellent way of your baby literally telling you it’s active and healthy.
However, it is important to distinguish between these normal movements and the abnormal, jerky and rapid movements, which might cause concerns about a potential problem like a fetal seizure. Seizures are rare and mostly associated with other complications.
It’s always good to talk to your doctor if there’s any concern regarding your health and the baby’s. He can offer insights and reassurances based on your specific situation.
Becoming familiar with your baby’s normal patterns of activity will also help you identify any significant changes.