The first time you feel your baby kick is one of the most thrilling experiences of pregnancy. It's confirmation that there's actually someone in there, that there's a whole person and a whole world going on inside of you. But at the same time, it's completely foreign, and you have no idea how this whole kicking thing works. Like what happens during labor? Should babies kick during contractions?
I had minor contractions throughout my whole pregnancy — I know, lucky me. They felt like menstrual cramps really, and while I don't specifically remember whether or not I felt actual kicking during these very unpleasant contractions, I'm sure I would have wondered if my baby should be kicking during these. So I spoke to bestselling author, senior midwife, and maternity consultant Kathy Fray to ask what the deal was with kicking during contractions, why/if it happens, and if it's safe for moms and babies.
In an email to Romper, Fray says, "It is normal and expected (a sign of well-being) that the fetus kicks during labor." She explains that babies in the womb typically have 40-minute sleep cycles of being asleep, awake, and falling back to sleep again. Fray explains that some babies do kick "during actual contractions" and some kick more in between. While some moms may feel their baby kick during contractions, Fray says that some babies "can get especially wriggly during the birth pushing phase, as they flexion their head ready for birth and line up their spine to the anterior position."
Amazing, right? There's so much going on at once, it's incredible to think how much our babies do already on their own. The whole birth experience was such a whirlwind for me personally. I don't remember anything except the pain I felt from the intense contractions and the fact that there was a human exiting my body, so to know that your baby is reacting to those contractions, too is pretty intense.
When asked why babies kick, Fray makes a good point. "Well, who the heck can lie perfectly still for 9 months?" She explains that kicking "is also part of them developing muscle strength and coordination." According to Fray, kicking is also a way for your baby to start showing their personality. It's a way for them to express their likes, dislikes, acknowledge a sound or sensation or temperature. Also, "active regular movements are an important sign of fetal well-being," and there is nothing wrong with movement at any time.
So should your baby kick during contractions? Absolutely. Your baby can kick at any time and this is actually a sign of a happy, healthy — and possibly opinionated — developing baby. If you're feeling concerned about not enough movement, especially during labor, it's always best to ask your doctor. Fray says that this could possibly be a sign something wrong, so it's always best to check. Keep in mind though that each baby is different. Just because your baby gets quiet for a while doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong; your little one could just be extra sleepy. But if you feel them throwing 'bows and kicking like crazy during labor, know they're feeling those contractions, too.