Labor is a busy, exciting time for the baby and mother. The uterus contracts and pushes the baby out of the comfortable environment to the outside world.
While fetal movement during labor is normal, you might be concerned if your baby is moving a lot during contractions.
Why is my baby so active between contractions? Your baby is so active between contractions because they’re finding a comfortable position for a safe birth. As your uterus pushes your baby out, it may agitate them and encourage them to move. If you sense any irregular movement from your baby, let your physician know immediately.
Read on to learn more about the baby’s movement during contractions and why babies move so much during labor.
Baby Movement During Labor
Whether you’re expecting a baby in the next few weeks or the next few hours, check out what your baby will do before and during birth.
Do Babies Move During Labor?
Yes, babies move during labor. Instead of the normal kicks that the mother feels throughout her pregnancy, she’ll feel the baby squirm and shuffle.
Fetal movement during labor is an indication that labor is progressing well. If you don’t feel your baby at all during labor, let your physician know.
Normal Baby Movements During Contractions
During labor, babies kick in response to the uterus contracting to push them out into the world. Movement is a good sign that your baby is awake and healthy.
Your doctor may put a fetal heart monitor on your stomach to manage how your baby is responding to each contraction.
While contractions aren’t supposed to hurt your baby, they may cause your baby distress if there are underlying medical conditions.
Normal Baby Movement in Between Contractions
While some babies move during contractions, some babies move in between contractions. Movement in between contractions means that your baby is awake and thriving in the womb as they prepare for birth.
Since the contractions squeeze the uterus and encourage the baby to leave the mother’s body, the baby may be agitated by the sudden change in environment.
Why Babies Move During Labor
You may feel your baby moving before and during labor for the following reasons.
Normal Cycle of Activity in the Womb
Babies will start moving in the womb at a gestational age of 12 weeks. The mother usually starts feeling the first kicks, called “quickening,” anywhere between 16 and 20 weeks, and as the baby gets bigger, mothers feel them kick more strongly.
Babies move throughout pregnancy and during labor to develop their growing bodies, and some babies will continue their normal daily routine even as labor progresses.
Baby Is Positioning for Birth
You’re not the only one working during labor. Your baby is also moving to the optimal position to exit the birth canal safely and efficiently.
After the baby’s body is in the proper position, you may feel them moving their head to find the right placement to get through the pelvis. During the pushing phase, you may also feel the baby kicking again to gain momentum out of the birth canal.
Baby Is Uncomfortable or Stressed
Before or during labor, you need to tell a medical professional if there are any changes in fetal movement.
While some fetal changes are normal, extreme movement may be an indication of a compressed umbilical cord or other cause of struggle for the baby.
Normal Response to Contractions
Your baby is warm, safe, and cozy inside the womb. They’re closer to you than they’ll ever be, and they get to eat and sleep whenever they want.
When contractions begin, the sudden movement agitates the baby to encourage labor. In response, the baby may kick to express their frustration.
When To Worry About Fetal Movement During Labor
There’s no such thing as normal fetal movement during labor. Some babies are more active than others, but if there’s ever a decrease in fetal movement during labor, you should let your physician know.
Your baby may be taking a nap, but they could also be in distress. You should also let your physician know if your baby suddenly starts moving like crazy.
Common Questions About Babies During Labor
If you’re a mother preparing for labor, you likely have tons of questions. In the following, we’ll address the most commonly asked questions about what the baby experiences during the labor process.
Increased Baby Movement Before Labor
Before you start labor, you may experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which is your body’s way of getting ready for birth. An extreme increase in baby movement before labor may be a sign that your baby is in distress.
You know your baby better than anyone, and you should let your physician know if there’s a significant change in your baby’s movements.
Do Contractions Hurt the Baby?
No, contractions don’t hurt the baby, but they make your baby uncomfortable so they move out of the birth canal.
Contractions squeeze the uterus and make the warm, safe womb where your baby has been for the last nine months a little less warm and safe. After a few hours of these contractions, your baby will be encouraged to make their way into the world.
Are Babies Awake During Labor?
Just like during the rest of pregnancy, babies follow a sleep/wake cycle during the labor process.
It’s interesting to note that toward the end of pregnancy, babies sleep about 95% of the time.
Throughout labor, you may find that the baby is active but also has some periods of inactivity. This is likely a sign that they are resting or sleeping.
What Do Babies Do During Labor?
During labor, babies move into the optimal position to make their way into the world. As the mother’s cervix begins to dilate, the baby’s head presses against the birth canal.
During the “pushing phase,” once the baby’s head, which is the widest part of the body, is out of the birth canal, the rest of the labor will be much quicker.
Do Babies Feel Pain During Birth?
According to recent studies, babies feel pain as early as 12 weeks in the womb. Babies who are uncomfortable in the womb or during birth might cry or make a face.
However, since birth is a natural experience, your body will do whatever possible to make the experience comfortable for your baby.
Why Do Babies Cry When They Are Born?
Babies cry when they are born as they take their first breath once the pressure eases off their chests and the breathing reflex begins. After their first breath, newborns may cry due to the shock of being taken from the womb.
Giving them skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding should comfort them and help restore their bonds with their mothers.
Do All Babies Cry at Birth?
Yes, all babies should cry at birth. If a baby is not making any noise at birth, there’s the possibility that the baby isn’t breathing. In that case, immediate medical action is required.
Babies move in the womb throughout pregnancy until they’re born. If you feel any difference in your baby’s movement before or during labor, reach out to a medical professional to make sure your child is safe and healthy.
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.