Know How to Differentiate Contractions vs. Baby Moving

You are going to experience so many different feelings during pregnancy. Most of the changes occur due to fluctuating hormones, but you may also feel uncomfortable at times because of your baby moving in the womb. Nevertheless, it is a great feeling to experience that first movement of your baby.

However, sometimes, what you take as the movement of your baby is nothing more than the painless uterine contractions. It is hard to differentiate between the both, and they both are different in terms of their nature and origin. A comparison of contractions and baby moving will help you differentiate between the both.

Contractions vs. Baby Moving: What Is the Difference?

For first time moms, it is a bit confusing to tell the difference, but those who have already been pregnant once can differentiate between the two. Here is some more detail to help you develop a better understanding about uterine contractions and baby moving in the womb.

Difference in Nature

Baby movement: Your baby is likely to make their first movement by the time you reach your 16th week of pregnancy. The movements of the hands, head, and legs will feel like small bumps or kicks to you. The movements are going to become rather intense as the pregnancy progresses, but they will decrease as you reach close to your due date. That decrease in movements is mainly because your baby will have little space available to move. Moreover, your baby's head will get fixed into your pelvis towards the 35th week of pregnancy.

Contractions: On the other hand, you experience uterine contractions due to the movement of your uterine muscles. There is no pathological cause behind these contractions. Experts believe that you experience those contractions due to an irritated uterus. Many women start getting these contractions by the time they reach their 6th week of pregnancy. It is worth pointing out that these contractions are not going to hurt your baby in any way.

Frequency and Pattern

A comparison between contractions vs. baby moving will also tell that many other factors can also affect the type of movement you experience during pregnancy. For instance, it is easier for thin mothers to feel the movements of the baby as compared to obese mothers. Here are some other factors affecting your baby's movements in the uterus:

  • Some babies are more active and may move or kick several times a day. It becomes easier for mothers to understand that they are baby movements and not uterine contractions. Keep in mind that it is possible for some babies to not make any movements for extended hours – you may consider contacting your doctor if you experience no movement for a very long time.
  • How active you are during pregnancy may also affect your baby's movement. If you are generally active, your movement may lull the baby to sleep. It means you are more likely to feel your baby move in your uterus when you are at rest or asleep.
  • Your stress and anxiety levels will also affect your baby's movement. Being anxious or stressed out leads to an adrenaline rush that can make your baby to move more frequently.
  • If you eat something sweet, that may lead to a surge in your blood sugar levels. This leads to a surge in energy, which is going to make your baby feel more active.

On the contrary, uterine contractions are usually quite irregular and infrequent. They are painless and can hit you any time. Your movement is not going to affect the frequency of these contractions either. Moreover, they have no connection with how you feel emotionally. You may drink more fluids and keep yourself well hydrated to prevent irritation of the uterus.

Here is a video to help understand more about contractions vs. baby moving:

What Moms Say About the Difference

"My experience says that the baby's movement is usually quite isolated and is less likely to last for an extended time. My little girl often pushes her bum out, and it feels like a BH, but I know it is different because it is focused in one spot of my belly only. If you have Braxton Hicks contractions, you are going to feel tight across your whole belly. Moreover, it is going to last for at least 30 seconds or so."

"It is my first pregnancy and when it comes to contractions vs. baby moving, I find it quite difficult to distinguish between large movements and contractions. A simple way to differentiate is to press on the body part where you feel the movement. If it is your baby, the movement may stop. If it is a contraction, it may continue and you may also feel your fingers running into the wall of uterus. I have started experiencing BHs as well, and I have noticed that they create a downward pressure near my rectum and cervix. They are uncomfortable but certainly not painful yet."

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