Babies can have seizures in the womb, but the occurrence is very rare. Medical professionals cannot determine seizures apart from normal baby movements without conducting the appropriate medical tests.
Pregnancy is a time of great joy, which is often marred with stressful perceptions related to the movements of your little one in your womb or lack thereof.
Baby movements in the womb are a sure sign of life, and every mother instinctively monitors their baby’s movements over the remainder of their pregnancy.
Changes in baby movements can result from numerous conditions related to the fluctuations of oxygen and nutrient levels. Still, there is generally a movement pattern that mothers recognize as normal for their baby.
Babies develop and behave differently in the womb, making it very difficult to set a standard for acceptable baby movements.
Any unusual movement in the womb will raise concerns, and the best course of action for mothers-to-be is to follow their gut instinct and urgently arrange for a medical check-up.
Let’s dig deeper into this subject and see what the medical professionals have to say.
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Baby in-utero movements
The first movements a pregnant woman will feel in her womb occur anywhere between 18 and 22 weeks. The movements might be kicks, rolls, flutters, or hiccups that will become stronger and more frequent up to 32 weeks before they stabilize into a recognizable pattern until birth.
Frequent movements are a sign that your baby is getting enough oxygen. But at times, it may feel like your baby is twitching or spasming, and red light begins flashing over your baby’s well-being.
Feeling a periodic flutter movement is considered normal within the 20 to 40-minute movement episodes that occur after the average 90-minute naps your baby takes throughout the day.
Babies are all unique in their movement patterns, making it very difficult to establish a standard of what movements are normal and what movements should raise concern.
What is important is the frequency of movements, and a decline in activity may indicate that something might be wrong.
Concerns about in-utero seizures
Spasm-like movements should not necessarily raise concerns as they do not indicate that your baby is having a seizure, nor does it suggest a possible physical disability. Although these types of movements feel odd, they are normal signs that your baby is fine and growing well in your womb.
Being able to distinguish a kick from other movements is reassuring, but there are several reasons why your baby does these strange out-of-the-ordinary movements:
- Nervous spasms: The sensation of nervous twitches is normal for a still-developing nervous system. During early development, your baby’s muscles can sometimes move involuntarily, resulting in muscle spasms. Nervous system spasms can feel like quick jolting movements.
- Braxton Hicks: This commonly occurs when you feel a hardness or contraction in your belly.
- Irritable uterus: Some expectant mothers develop this condition which is related to painless spasms in the uterus. The spasms will not necessarily cause your cervix to dilate but as with everything pregnancy-related, discuss it with your doctor.
- Hiccups: Feeling the sensation of shivers or odd vibrations is probably your baby having hiccups in the womb. Yes, your baby can have hiccups, coughs, or even sneeze while in your womb. Your baby could even have hiccups at the same time each day that present as mild vibrations, shivers, or twitches.
- Umbilical cord: During your pregnancy, your baby might get tangled in the umbilical cord, and odd movements may suggest that your baby is trying to shake off the cord. The amniotic fluid in your womb allows your baby to float, as does the umbilical cord. Being tangled in the cord is common among babies and is no cause for concern.
- Stretching: Space in your womb is limited in the later stage of your pregnancy, and your baby stretching tends to feel like a long vibration that is at times stronger than kicks. You may interpret the movement as twitches, thumps, or spasms.
- Startle: Because your baby can already hear noises on the outside, it is normal for them to react to sudden loud noises with a quick twitch or jab.
- Mother’s diet: What you eat or drink can influence your baby’s movements. Cold drinks, caffeine, or sugary foods tend to increase movement activity and might be stronger than normal. You may be able to correlate your diet to your baby’s movements.
Baby movements in the womb are a sign of life that puts mothers-to-be at ease, but yet, the occasional weird movement will still raise concerns, and the best way to ease your worries is to discuss your concerns with your doctor.
There is no harm in requesting an ultrasound to put your concerns to rest, especially if you are not feeling well, be it physically or emotionally, that may have manifested through lifestyle circumstances.
It is vital that you are relaxed and comfortable, and your diet promotes good health for both you and your baby.
Having said this, it is important to realize that anxiety during pregnancy may result in the increased perception of odd baby movements.
As stated, mothers-to-be will be able to recognize their unborn baby’s specific movement patterns, and a change in this pattern should not be ignored.
Understanding baby movements in the womb
Prior to 28 weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s movements do not serve as a sensitive measure to determine a potential problem which is primarily due to the wide variation of movement patterns.
If you are concerned about your baby’s odd movements at this early stage of pregnancy, you should drink a glass of cold water and get some rest. This usually brings about more subtle movements, but if the movements persist, contact your doctor for advice.
At about 32 weeks, movements stabilize into a recognizable pattern, unique to each baby.
Your baby’s daily movement pattern is far more important than the number of movements, many of which cannot be felt. Baby movements tend to be more easily felt when lying down than standing upright.
If your baby’s movement pattern is interrupted and decreases substantially, then lying down on your back for about two hours and paying meticulous attention to any movements will help. You can gently push your abdomen about to elicit a response from your baby.
If movements still do not resemble your baby’s normal movement pattern after 2 hours, then contacting your doctor for an urgent check-up will be best.
It is important not to leave the check-up for the next day as your baby could be at risk. In most cases, the baby will be fine, but in the rare case of an actual problem, it is imperative not to miss the opportunity to help a baby at risk.
In the later stage of pregnancy, heart rate tracing (CTG) will be performed, and an ultrasound exam may be required within 24 hours.
Can babies move too much?
Babies who move around a lot are a sign of a healthy baby. There is no medical limit to how much a baby should move while in the womb.
Each baby is different and your doctor, who knows your medical history, is the best person to advise you about your baby’s movement pattern.
What causes reduced baby movements?
There are many variables that include factors like excessive fluid around your baby that dampen movements, the unusual position of your baby in the womb, an anterior placenta, being overweight, being a first-time mother, or possibly a history of smoking.
Decreased movement is often linked to reduced oxygen and blood supply, with low placenta flow putting your baby in distress. Another reason for decreased movement is the oversupply of blood sugar in the baby.
This is caused by maternal diabetes or a mother being in a prediabetic state where oxygen is used to metabolize glucose, and insufficient amounts are transferred to the baby.
How does epilepsy affect pregnancy?
Epileptic seizures during pregnancy can cause a slowing of the baby’s heart rate and a decrease in oxygen supply. This, in turn, can result in injury to the baby, premature separation of the placenta from the uterus, or miscarriage caused by a trauma-related seizure.
Seizures can also trigger premature birth. It’s best to follow your doctor’s advice to the letter if you have epilepsy.
Baby movements bring much joy to expecting mothers because they are not only a sign of good health, but they may also lead mothers to identify movement patterns with desired personality traits they believe their baby already possesses.
Too much movement is never bad, but declining movements indicate that there could possibly be a problem and should urgently be checked. There is no standard to determine what is a good baby movement and what’s a bad movement.
Baby movements are a sign of life; as long as your baby’s movement pattern remains fairly constant daily, you will know that your baby is doing just fine.
Odd or out-of-the-ordinary movements can be scary for some mothers, and in most cases, getting a check-up will confirm your baby’s health and put your nerves at rest.
Babies can have seizures in the womb, but they are very rare, so being concerned and getting an expert medical diagnosis is always the right call.