Last week my partner forgot to pick up our son from school. He works nights so, in his defense "forgot" really meant "accidentally slept through his alarm." So I raced to my son's school from work, 36 weeks pregnant, so that one of us could pick him up on time. And after I finally arrived, snagged my son, and made my way home, I noticed a bumping in my stomach. It was constant, it wasn't a fetus, and it was unsettling. Turns out, you can feel your pulse in your pregnant belly and no one — I mean no one — told me this was a thing!
According to Healthline, your aorta is the "main artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body." If you didn't really pay attention in your high school anatomy class (read: if you're like me) and have no idea where the aorta is located, it "runs from your heart, down the center of your chest, and into your abdomen," per Healthline. The "bumping" that I was feeling after a frantic trip to my son's school was my abdominal aorta. Healthline explains why I was able to feel it — and see it! — after walking quickly and feeling energized courtesy of what felt like an overabundance of adrenaline:
When you're pregnant, the amount of blood circulating around your body dramatically increases. This means there's more blood being pumped with each heartbeat, which can make the pulse in your abdominal aorta more noticeable.
Surprisingly, pregnancy (or a quick trip to your child's school) isn't the only time when you can feel your abdominal aorta. According to Healthline, eating and laying down can also help you feel this very important artery go to work. When you eat, your body pumps extra blood into your stomach so you can digest food and absorb nutrients. And if you don't have very much abdominal fat, and you lay down with your knees raised, you send blood to your abdomen and may even be able to see your stomach pulsing. You know, in case you want to freak yourself out, too.
When you're pregnant it's easy to confuse a slew of things with fetus kicks, which is exactly what happened when I felt my pregnant stomach pulsating. According to WebMD, by the third trimester your baby-to-be should move about 30 times in an hour, and if you're pregnant for the first time you'll probably feel your baby kick around 25 weeks gestation.
It's also important that you monitor your baby's kicks when they become more frequent and you're later in pregnancy, according to WebMD. But it's important to note that tracking baby kicks might not be the best way to determine fetal health. According to WebMD, "There isn't any real scientific evidence to prove whether or not this method is a good indicator of the baby's well-being, so check with your health care provider to see what he or she recommends."
Pregnancy can be strange, my friends, and nothing makes it feel more sci-fi than watching your heartbeat via your pregnant belly. Knowing what pregnancy symptoms — including feeling your aorta in your stomach! — you could experience can help you feel more relaxed throughout the entire gestational period.