If you notice a swimming sensation in your stomach, you might be wondering about the cause. There are plenty of things that can initiate this kind of feeling, with one of the most well-known being pregnancy. However, if you aren't already noticeably pregnant, the likelihood of this sensation being a sign of pregnancy is low.
When a pregnant woman first feels her developing baby move, she usually describes those first sensations as fluttery feelings. Even these slight early movements can't be detected until about 16 weeks into the pregnancy, so a woman who feels them has already missed four or more periods and has likely experienced many other symptoms of pregnancy, such as morning sickness and tender breasts. Many women are beginning to show before they feel fetal movement, so tightening clothing and a protruding belly are earlier signs than a fluttery sensation. Later in the pregnancy, sensations of turning, swimming and rolling can be felt, but by the time a woman notices these, she is visibly pregnant. She's also likely to be at the point where others can feel fetal movement by placing a hand on her belly.
In both pregnant and non-pregnant individuals, gas, viruses and spoiled food can all sometimes cause what is described as a swimming sensation in the abdomen. Of these, gas trapped in the intestines may be the most common cause. In fact, the early flutterings of fetal movement are often mistaken for gas and vice versa, so it can be difficult to tell the two apart.
Butterflies in the Stomach
Another common cause of swimming and fluttering sensations in the belly is stress. This condition, which is often referred to as having butterflies in your stomach, typically occurs when your body experiences a fight or flight reaction. In the modern world, this physiological reaction might result from public speaking, an argument with a family member or ongoing worry and anxiety.
Determining the Cause
If you aren't already aware of a pregnancy through missed periods and other symptoms, a swimming feeling in your gut probably isn't a sign that you are pregnant. If your roiling stomach is accompanied by belching or flatulence, gas is likely the culprit. Severe abdominal pain along with the churning may indicate a viral or bacterial infection. If you are under a lot of stress or about to do something that makes you nervous, you are probably just experiencing butterflies in the stomach and there is no underlying medical reason for the swimming sensation in your belly.