When you’re in the latter stages of pregnancy, your baby kicks all sorts of parts of your body, and many of them can be painful. I remember distinctly a fondness one of my children had for sticking his foot in between my ribs.
But what if you feel like they are kicking you in the cervix? Is this normal or dangerous? Does it mean that labor is about to start or you're just confused with other things inside your body?
Some pregnant women report feeling their baby kicking the cervix or inside their vagina as early as twenty weeks, and this is a very disconcerting feeling. It can be natural to wonder if the cervix has started or will now be prompted to start dilating.
I remember leaping out of bed every time my son made a move in the last month of pregnancy, thinking that each kick was definitely contractions starting.
It could very well be that your baby has his feet in or near your cervix, but he can’t cause any trouble there. Rest assured that your baby cannot start labor just by kicking you. One of the key jobs of your cervix is to stay firmly closed until it’s ready to open.
And whatever feels like a tiny baby kicking your insides is definitely not your cervix dilating. When your cervix dilates, you’ll know it, and it feels nothing like little baby feet.
The cervix is the neck of your uterus. There is a condition called short cervix which means that your cervix is shorter than normal. There have been some links between short cervix and early labor.
Also, there have been a large number of women who have a short cervix and had an absolutely normal labor, so try not to panic at this time.
Pressure apparently can make it temporarily shorter, which also includes when your doctor examines your length, but baby kicking will not shorten your cervix permanently.
So he may be kicking you in the cervix, and that’s okay. However, the feeling of kicking can be due to one of the following causes:
1. Your baby is kicking you elsewhere in your body and the vibrations make it feel like he is in your cervix. Baby starts kicking at about 9 weeks gestation, although you will rarely feel that.
Most women will start to feel kicking between 16 and 25 weeks with their first pregnancy, around 13 weeks with their second. No matter how early you feel it, it is very unlikely to be anything to do with labor starting.
2. Your baby’s head is closer to your abdomen and what you are feeling is him headbutting you or gently bouncing his head on your lady parts. It is actually more likely that he is head first, especially towards the end of your pregnancy.
3. You have more than one baby. I’m sorry to say it but with increased babies comes increased kicking in your vagina. And this is only the beginning of your increased levels of discomfort, from now until they become adults and move out of home.
4. Your baby’s head may be pushing on the nerves endings inside you causing pulses in your cervix; you may also feel these in your thighs. Also, this can happen when he pushes on your bladder, which sends little needle-like stabs into your cervix.
5. You may have a condition called vulvar varicosities (I know – sounds fun, right?) which are varicose veins inside your pelvis. There are just so many things you don’t hear about when you decide to get pregnant.
6. Your baby has the hiccups. It may sound weird to you, but baby having hiccups in the womb is very normal. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about it, just ride it out till he’s done.
7. Blood flow to your uterus makes many parts of your vagina hypersensitive to sensation, including pain. Basically the kicking might not be as bad as you think.
8. You may be low in magnesium which reduces your capacity to deal with pain and makes you more sensitive to the kicking. You may feel better once you start taking a magnesium supplement.
9. You may have exposed your baby to a surprising stimulus, such as sound or light outside the belly, or even something you have eaten.
One thing that I find causes a lot of worries is reading forums on mother and baby websites. There appears to be a very high percentage of women telling stories of tragedy and warning. It may not be the terrible news you think.
The vast majority of women have healthy pregnancies and successful labors and healthy babies, and that’s why they don’t have time to post about it online.
If the pain is severe, persists for a long time, or appears with other concerning symptoms such as bleeding, a rush of water, vomiting or diarrhea, you should consult with your doctor just to make sure nothing is wrong.
Furthermore, if you are in the last few weeks of pregnancy, it could very well be the beginning of your cervix dilating.
Your baby kicking, no matter how uncomfortable you may be, is generally a very good sign of a healthy baby. As he grows he will cause more trouble. You may find it helpful to take comfort in the kicking that you feel.
Also, if you think your baby stops moving, then you should seek attention immediately. You can check baby’s movements by counting them; there should be at least ten movements in a two hour period.
One of the laws of pregnancy is that when you’re active, the baby inside you is rocked to sleep, then when you lie down or sit still, he wakes and decides it’s time to party.
This is exhausting not only when you’re pregnant, but carries on once the baby is born. His body clock says it’s time to party when regular people want to sleep.
You can often encourage your baby to stop kicking by moving around in a way that rocks him to sleep. Try standing and swaying your hips from side to side. You can also try tricks that get a baby to change position like going to the toilet or drinking a glass of cold water.
Some mothers swear by long warm baths, but I think in general this is always a good idea, even after your babies are born.
You can’t just turn off worry, especially if it’s late in your term. But try to take it as easy on yourself as you can. You will meet your little one soon enough.
Amy Duncan is the founder of KindMommy, a blog where she's providing helpful information about pregnancy and many useful tips for young parents. Besides writing, Amy loves to cook and travel with her friends and family. You can also find Amy on Twitter (@AmyKindmommy).