Fetal movement is a welcome indication of fetal well-being, but your baby’s movements can be distracting and disconcerting when they cause pain. It is not uncommon for women to experience discomfort in the ribcage, abdomen or cervix when the fetus moves a limb or changes position inside the uterus. Although pain associated with fetal movement is not necessarily a cause for concern, if the pain is severe, prolonged or presents with other symptoms, you should speak with your doctor.
Your cervix lies at the lower end of your uterus, just above your vagina. During pregnancy, the tiny slit remains firmly closed to protect your expanding uterus and growing fetus. As your due date approaches, your cervix will thin and open up — a dual process called effacement and dilation — to make way for your baby’s exit. If all goes well, your baby will travel from your uterus, through your cervical canal, beyond your cervix and into your vagina.
One of the most commonly used tools for determining fetal health is a mother’s observation and record of her baby’s fetal movements. Meaningful fetal movement can be detected as early as 14 weeks, and beginning then, your doctor will probably question you routinely about your baby’s activity level. You’ll want to remain alert to your baby’s movements and note any increase or decrease in activity. Your baby’s earliest movements might feel like soft fluttering or twitching, and if you relate to those tremors as a sign that your baby is thriving, you’ll find them comforting.
As your baby grows inside your uterus and becomes gradually more confined, the light fetal movements you detected in earlier weeks are likely to become more intense. You might feel an occasional sharp jab or kick in your rib cage, abdomen or cervix as your baby increases in size and strength. The authors of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” suggest moving around or changing your position if your baby's jabbing persists.
NetWellness suggests that sharp pain in the vaginal area might indicate that the cervix is beginning to dilate, which can happen weeks, days or hours before labor actually begins. While pain of this sort is not generally a cause for concern, speak to your doctor immediately if the pain is severe or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding, nausea or vomiting.