Pulsating Feeling In Cervix During Pregnancy (Is It A Sign of Labor?)

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Pulsating feelings in your cervix could indicate that your baby is moving or hiccuping. It’s usually just uncomfortable and not painful; thus, it’s not a sign of labor. Fetal hiccups may occur during week 27 of pregnancy which, may feel like rhythmic pulses lasting 7-15 minutes several times a day. While this is normal, hiccups felt much later after 32 weeks may indicate an umbilical cord complication which, needs immediate medical intervention as it may put your baby in danger. You may change your position and put a pillow on your side when sleeping, drink plenty of liquids and take frequent rests to relieve any discomfort due to your baby’s movements or hiccups.

It is pretty scary to feel unfamiliar symptoms down your belly during pregnancy. Experienced moms would tell you that each ache and twitch down there are pretty normal and are signs that your little one is healthy and moving.

However, it’s unsettling not to know if these are warning signs or not, especially when you’re on your first-time pregnancy. If you’re worried about the pulsating feeling in your cervix, below is the list of reasons why you’re experiencing it.

Your baby is kicking!

When you’re about 16-18 weeks pregnant, you should feel your baby starting to move. But, if it’s your first pregnancy, it won’t be until 20-24 weeks gestation when you can feel its motion. The sensation may vary or change as time progresses along with the growth and development of your baby.

But usual signs of baby movements include:

  • Small, tiny kicks
  • Flutters (like butterflies in your stomach)
  • Quick swishing
  • Rolling or tumbling

In the later stages of pregnancy, you may feel more distinct and frequent movements which, usually happen during the night or when the baby is awake. You are most likely to feel them when you’re sitting or standing as well as when you’re lying down and concentrating on them. 

At week 36 and towards the end of your pregnancy, you’ll feel like your baby has moved down to your pelvic area. Thus, there is less room for them to move, causing more pressure and distinct pulses.

You may happen to notice more movements from them too. Many women experience ten fetal movements within just 30 minutes. But don’t worry if you count less within that period. Give yourself the time of up to two hours.

A healthy baby usually moves a lot, so be sure to get in touch with your doctor immediately if you notice much lesser movements. 

You may do the following to wake your baby if they’re not moving a lot:

  • Drink a glass of cold water
  • Eat a small snack
  • Push gently on your stomach

Frequent fetal movements may give you discomfort, aches, and stress.

Below are some tips to help you with that:

  • Lie down on your left side propped with pillows when sleeping
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Drink plenty of fluids especially, water
  • Regular exercise
  • Go to bed early at the same time every night
  • Take frequent rest
  • Wear a support brace

Your baby is hiccuping!

Like hiccups in kids and adults, the reason for fetal hiccups is also unknown. But theory tells that it could signify your baby’s lung is maturing. 

As you move to week 27 or your third trimester, you may experience your baby’s hiccups. These usually feel like on and off cramps, pulses, and muscles spasms, like following a rhythm.

Some moms may feel this as tiny heartbeats. You may experience 4-7 pulses before it stops then, it starts again, which could last for 7-15 minutes several times a day. But, the number of pulses and length varies for every pregnant mom. 

If fetal hiccups are hard to identify for first-time moms, these are primarily felt in one area of your belly when sitting or lying still, unlike fetal movements which, you could feel in top and bottom and side to side of your belly. 

While hiccups are normal during your baby’s growth inside your womb, frequent hiccups felt later after 32 weeks of pregnancy could indicate complications of your baby’s umbilical cord. 

So, if you notice some changes in your baby’s hiccups like they would go on more than three times a day, lasting for more than 15 minutes in each episode, you should tell your doctor immediately. 

Umbilical cord prolapse

The umbilical cord looks like a tube that connects your baby to your placenta. It supplies oxygen-rich blood and vital nutrients to your baby and serves as the exit line for its wastes. 

Ideally, your baby must come first before its umbilical cord during birth. However, in rare cases, the umbilical cord may slip through the cervix and into the vagina before the baby. This condition is called umbilical cord prolapse, which is very dangerous because the baby may compress its umbilical cord into your cervix. 

If you have this condition and are approaching the due date, you may feel a protruding part of the cord in your vagina after your water breaks. When this happens, you must call your doctor immediately. 

Umbilical cord compression

Compressions may result from an umbilical cord prolapse which, often happens during labor. However, there are also chances that the umbilical cord might too be compressed during the last weeks of pregnancy when your baby is moving too much. 

While some mild and periodic compressions are harmless, too much compression will disrupt the oxygen supply and blood into your baby which, can lead to complications like:

If your water breaks before week 37 of pregnancy, there is a high chance that you’ll deliver your baby much earlier and may also be the cause of umbilical cord prolapse leading to compression. 

So, if you have early water breakage or preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM), you must see your doctor immediately.

Complications of your baby’s umbilical cord may show no symptoms but can only be detected through:

  • Fetal Doppler test
  • Ultrasound

Your doctor may infuse a saline solution into your uterus during labor or increase your oxygen through a ventilator to avoid the risk of umbilical compression and increase the blood flow in your baby’s umbilical cord.

If tests show that your baby develops distress that causes its heart rate to drop, you may need to deliver your baby through a Caesarean or C-section. 

FAQs

Why is it throbbing down there?

Pregnancy comes with many aches and pain in your belly down to your vagina, especially when you’re in the last week of your term.

There could be many reasons why you’re feeling some pain down there, including:

Lightning crotch. It refers to a sudden and sharp or shooting pain in your vagina, rectum, and pelvic area. The pain usually makes anyone stop in their tracks.
Braxton-Hicks contractions. It may feel like real contractions, but they’re just unpainful tightening or squeezing sensations.
Ligament pain. It usually occurs in your early pregnancy as your belly expands to support your baby’s growth.
Constipation. It could be caused by the increased levels of the hormone progesterone in your body.
Trapped wind. It refers to the gas which may cause bloating, burping, or flatulence.

These should be something that goes away when you change position, have a rest, take a warm bath, do a poo or pass wind, and take a prenatal massage.

However, you should be able to distinguish real contractions which, feel like intense and painful tightening or cramping that starts in your back moving up to your front, growing more intensely and painfully (in short intervals) over time.

It may indicate that you’re about to have active labor. In such cases, please call an ambulance immediately.

How does it feel when your cervix is dilating?

Some moms may or may not experience any symptoms when their cervix is dilating (opening). But, before your cervix could open, your cervix should thin down first (efface). There are no distinct symptoms when your cervix is effacing and dilating, as you may confuse them with other sensations.

However, when your cervix is thinning down during the early stage of your labor, you may or may not feel irregular contractions or twinges, which could be less painful than labor contractions. You may also notice the loss of your mucus plug, increase in vaginal discharge, and feeling like your baby has dropped lower into your pelvis.

Some women may also need a cervical cerclage or cervical stitch when their cervix opens up (dilates) much earlier before their due date or if they have a weak cervix. It will avoid premature birth or miscarriages.

Takeaway

While pregnancy is one of the most beautiful journeys of a woman’s life, it also means dealing with a lot of sensations that, sometimes, may confuse you if you’re already in your labor, or it’s just one of those uncomfortable and painful feelings that pregnant women normally experiences.

If the pulsating feeling in your cervix is nothing more than just your baby’s hiccups, it should not be painful and tend to go away when you’re approaching 32 weeks of pregnancy.

Any discomfort felt during these times should resolve when you lie down on your left side while keeping a pillow underneath, getting regular exercise, drinking more fluids, taking frequent rest, or having a prenatal massage.

However, to keep your mind at peace, visit your doctor immediately especially, if you’re experiencing pulses in your cervix longer than 15 minutes, more than three times a day.

Reana Jean Cuevas
Mabuhay! I'm Reana Jean Cuevas. A healthy body means living well with no worries-just happiness and more life adventures. Taking care of my body and well-being is an investment for my career and future. I was a volunteer at the Philippine Red Cross. I joined the training to become a first-aider and be able to provide other health and safety services in my community. I love discussing anything but mainly first-aid, home remedies, and women's health.
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