Community Forum

Seizures in utero?

When I was pregnant at about 7months, I complained to my doctor that I would feel rhytmic motions during the day in my womb.  They felt like small flutters, very rhytmic and frequent (not like when the baby would kick me) and they would go away and come back almost each day. The doctor even felt my stomach when it was happening, and said that it's possible the baby had "hiccups."  During this time, I was also checked for maternal diabetes and was told that the "baby" was causing the problem and I was not diabetic.  When my daughter developed a stroke at 4months (later infantile spasm) and hypoglycemia, I was asked about any distress during pregnancy and told the neuro about the hiccups.   He said it was possible the baby was seizing in the womb already and the hiccups were seizures.  Did anyone else have this or similar type of experience during pregnancy? 


Hi Katika. Having read your post made me recall a similar sensation with my sons pregnancy. I recall a rthymic motion that would repeat 30-40 times. This happened on a number of occasions later in the pregnancy. I also mentioned this to my doctor, but he wasn't at all concerned. It wasn't until our son was 18 months old that his first seizure occurred. His have been few and far between and he is now turning 6 years old. These motions could well have been related to seizure activity I suppose. Thanks for bringing this up, I never would have remembered otherwise. If you do find out more about this I too would like to know if there truly is some relationship between in utero motions and current seizure activity. Sincerely, Kelley.

Thank you. I find your links very helpful. I am planning on having another child in the future and I want to be even more vigilant about fetal distress.  Sadly, I did not have this knowledge for my first born child but I continue to learn a lot in this forum that helps us.  It was very nice of you to take the time and connect me to these articles. Kati 

no problem. it seems to be pretty rare, but I am guessing that it just isn't reported as much, maybe most pregnant mothers just write it off as the baby kicking, or like you maybe they tell the doctor and he writes it off as "hiccups". Those were the only links I could find but I'm glad you found them useful.

Hi,My son was diagnost with epliepsy since birth and once I found out about that I had asked my doctor if it was possible that he was having seizures while in the womb.  People just brush things off because it part of the "unknown"  My son is doing ok but seems to have an episode every 18 months (probably during a growth spurt) but he's starting to realized what is happening to him which is hard for him to understand.  His development since birth has been delayed and he is in a special school but his neuro is convinced that he will grow out of the seizures...only time will tell.

I was a labor and delivery nurse for eons, now disabled. It is very common for babies to have hiccups, in fact all of my babies did. Hiccups are a muscle spasm in the diaphragm - a very simplified definition. If you should get pregnant again and have your fetus have these motions? Go in and have a fetal monitor strip run. Hiccups show a definite type of tracing. It's very easily seen as opposed to other types of activities.Gretchen

Hi,This was not a hiccup.  Kicks and hiccups are easily identified.  What I had was continuous rythmic movment , like when you shake your leg quickly. 

I agree, hiccups are usually easily identified even by first time mothers. It's very rhythmic and it feels to the pregnant mom, also any examiner with a hand on your gravid belly that your child is having - hiccups. Baby's "breath" amniotic fluid in utero. All of my babies, I won't expose myself by even saying how many I had right now, had hiccups. Many babies do during labor and almost all if not all mothers will tell me, their baby is having hiccups. So I think it's something easily recognized even by the unitiated. Often you can observe a woman's shirt, especially if it's clingy, like knit and see the baby have hiccups. It's caused it's thought, last I heard, by an immaturity of the respiratory process. But I haven't worked for going on 7 years and new theories, advancements are always being made in this field of medicine. I might be behind times in my knowledge. Two things:Since I've been diagnosed with epilepsy? And I'm going through it right now. I seem to get this in groupings, time periods where I'll get it a lot, time periods I'll not get it at all or it's very short lived. I'll have several hour periods of having hiccups. To the point my muscles just under my boobs start getting sore and I get indigestion. One time period lasted right at 14 hours. I had two surgeries several weeks ago, one lasted 7 hours, and I was told because of positioning while I was in surgery, because it lasted so long, the anesthetic drugs used, and that I'm an epileptic and a very active epileptic, that's why I'm having these triathlon it feels lasting hiccups and they're very hard. I'll even be in the middle of one hiccup and start in on another one before the first is finished. I asked if it was sz activity because after maybe an hour I start to loose cognition. I didn't realize I was until I tried to write an email one day and I was doing word substitution, leaving words out. Later went back and read that email, which was 3 paragraphs, and two of those paragraphs were almost duplicates. So I called my epileptologist, told him, and he ordered Ativan injections. That does seem to stop them. So, does that raise the question, are these marathon long hiccups I'm having sz activity since I obviously lost cognition? Was I "clustering"? The answer I got was "very possible" but without an EEG no one was committing. So I started doing some internet research and hiccups can be a simple partial or a type of myoclonic jerk. And please don't go on my internet research as the gospel because I got so tired of thumbing through one URL after the other I wasn't as thorough as I could have been. I worked in women's medicine for years. I was in L&D but when we had no patients I'd get pulled to gyn where many women had abdominal surgeries and once in awhile we'd have a woman who had status hiccups (that's my "diagnostic name", not the doctors) for hours. With a fresh abdominal wound the hiccups were really painful. We were told then those hiccups were caused by the diaphragm being irritated during the surgery. After trying many things what they found does stop them is Valium, for most people. Again on me I was given Ativan but we know with me and the many status sz's I've had Valium doesn't help me at all, but Ativan does. So again what a hiccup is is a muscle spasm in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle at the base on the lungs, more or less, that acts as a bellows. This muscle pulls the lungs down to inspire or take in a breath, relaxes to expire or let the breath out. Some babies once in a great long while will be born with a diaphragmatic hernia in their diaphragm muscle. Depending upon the severity this can be eminently life threatening for the baby. They can't inspire. Surgery to fix this is like a mad dash from the birthing room to surgery holding the baby. But there is a lot not known about hiccups. For instance why are they rhythmic? On a fetal monitor strip which counts time periods, I can predict when the next one is coming on a fetus because they are just that rythmic and predictable. They show up on the toco on the uterus, not on the fetus's heart rate. Although I have seen some fetus's heart rates speed up still within normal range but is that because the hiccups are making them move more, which creates more activity which increases fetal heart rate or are the hiccups stressing the baby? I think probably, by palpating, it's making the baby move around more, but I'm a nurse, not a doctor, and I'm only guessing and applying years of being a labor and delivery nurse. I'm also a certified midwife and I remember during that grueling training that at least at that time and the field of L&D is advancing rapidly in knowledge, hiccups were dismissed as a natural phenomena, don't worry about it.Putting all of that together, and I'll add that there is a lot not known about hiccups, I have two epileptic children. My son, who is epileptic, also has severe ADHD. Off of his medication it is REAL obvious he has severe ADHD. I don't know how he stands it, the amount of constant movement he has to stay in to me would feel like torture, even in his sleep. FINALLY by his junior year in HS we found a drug that completely quiets that, after years of nasty drug trials. Anyway in utero I will never ever think otherwise. He had ADHD in utero. I've been pregnant a lot. None of my babies had his kind of activity. He moved earlier than the rest of the children and once he started moving, or once I could feel it, he NEVER stopped moving. It was nonstop, as his unmedicated severe ADHD is now. And you know how you're taught the first movement of your baby you might think is your bowel rumbling? Or a little flutter? Not him, it was like someone knocking hard at the door. It made me jump. He'd have what I visioned periods of what felt like "scrambling up hill" on all 4's. They'd last about one minute. It was very "violent" feeling, like he was distressed. He had his first sz known to me at 7 weeks. It was a t/c. I've wondered if he had in utero sz's. At the time I delivered him, he's now 28, continuous fetal monitoring wasn't used. My daughter in her mid 20's now was just diagnosed with epilepsy. The thought is she has probably had it for life but the way it was represented combined with some other neuro conditions she has, it was missed by us all until it worsened in the last year. She had atypical presentation of seizures too. She didn't do this hard scrambling feelings in utero. What was distinctive about her in utero movement was she seemed to do periods lasting several minutes of what felt like rolling over and over. Which was impossible by the time I felt this she was too big, it was too crowded in there. My daughter also had an unusually long cord. It was wrapped around everything, everywhere. At the time she was delivered the doctor made a comment no wonder she "rolled" around so much she was trying to avoid the cord tightening on her. I wasn't in a good position to ask him now if he was serious or not. Her cord was twice around an ankle, once around her wrist and 3 times around her neck and it wasn't tight, there was still more cord. In all my years of L&D nursing? I've never seen a longer cord in my life. I don't know if that figures in or not, so I added it.Knowing now both of them have epilepsy it's very hard for me not to read something into their atypical in utero movements. Yet they're both in their 20's, I've had a lot of children, but those two and their movements are still very vivid to me because they were so pronounced.Even though I'm stating I was an L&D nurse and a midwife for years? I'm not posting as a medical expert but as a mother. The only thing I can say about my post I feel accurate with medical certainty is fetal monitoring and information about diaphragms and diaphragmatic hernias. Otherwise my observations about my children in utero, are only that, my questions and observations.Gretchen

Hi, I am currently 8 months pregnant with my 2nd child. I have a 4 year old stepson who has been diagnosed with epilepsy, no cause found. My husband and I have noticed these "shuddering" sensations from the baby in the last few weeks, and I am searching for an answer! Since this is not my first pregnancy, I am aware that I never had these kind of fetal movements with my first son (from a previous relationship). Because my husband's son has epilepsy, I have wondered if these movements represent some kind of abnormal neurological activity in the baby. The movements are NOT hiccups, it is not the same feeling at all. It feels like a frantic, shaking kind of feeling, usually lasting a few seconds and returning every 5 minutes or so for around 30 minutes. Any help or additional information would be greatly appreciated.

Hi i have a baby girl who is 6months old now, all the way through pregancy i felt extreme hiccups from my daughter all the time, i had a very easy labour and after she was born after 4 hrs she started having very bad fits which stopped her from breathing, she got rushed to a neo-natel unit and for 6 weeks they could not control her sizures, she had well over 200 fits in 4 weeks after that i stopped counting. On week 6 they finaly got the fits under control and she has only had about 5 in 4 months now, She was diagonsed with a chomosome 2 dupliaction which only seems to be affecting her with sizures and she has no facial abnormalites, she is currently undergoing physio as with all the sizures she had seemed to affected her left side of her body. I can understand your worrie, but at the end of the day i can comment and say what you dont know wont harm you or they baby as if your baby is fitting inside of you.... you are keeping it alive and well and only you! what will be will be. It was very hard for me after having my baby girl and watching her fitting with all the doctors sstood around her puzzeled to why they couldnt control them and i thank god for there care and help they gave me. Epilepsy is a weired thing and there should be more research into it!

My daughter is 2 yrs almost 3 and had told my Dr. the same thing when I was pregnant.  They stated that it was just the baby moving around (being active).  Now that she was just DX with epileptic seizures three months ago I am not so sure.  After Alex was born she would spasm her limbs out.  I thought nothing of it, I just thought that she had that feeling of falling.  Well that spasm  started in to a strange rotating motion of the hands and feet.  Then about 8 months ago she started having right sided focal seizures.  While I was pregnant I developed diabeties and also had polycystic ovarin disease.  I don't know if either one of these may have hindered the developement of the brian.  Her MRI came back normal, but I still want to know what had caused this.  We are still searching for a medication for her.  She seems to be sensitive to the side effects.

I am almost 7 months pregnant and I have a 3 year old son from a previous relationship. Last night I felt strong fast repetitious movements for about a minute and a half. I never felt anything like that before. My son had a stroke before he was born but thankfully has no long term effects from it, aside from being left handed. My fiance, the father of this baby, has a daughter from his previous relationship who also had a stroke, but after she was born. She has a few mild things that we think could be associated with the stroke, but have not yet been evaluated for it. This is just making me nervous i felt this last night, and I have been a basket case ever since. I called my dr, and spoke with the dr on call and he said there is no problem going and getting it checked out, but my question is would it be worth it?? Are they just going to tell me it's nothing to worry about?? It's unbelievable how dr's can just easily say how it's nothing to worry about, but yet I'm still going to be worried till you tell me what the heck is going on... I need some advice!!

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

24/7 helpline