Some women experience ‘phantom kicks’ for YEARS after they’ve given birth

Posted in Family Health.

A team at Monash University have revealed that many mums feel a sensation akin to a foetus kicking inside them, long after they’ve given birth.

Phantom flutters

They’re hoping to find out if these movements have any connection to women’s postpartum mental health.

The researchers looked at a small group of 197 women who had gone through pregnancy. They found that a pretty hefty 40 percent of the women had experienced what they are referring to as ‘phantom foetal kicks’ in the years after birth.

These women reported feeling this sensation for an average of … wait for it … 6.8 years! One woman upped that further, saying her phantom kicks persisted for a whopping 28 years.

The phantom kicks were very regular too. Close to 20 percent of women felt them daily, and around 40 percent felt them “more than once a week,” New Scientist reports.

The results of this study have recently been published online, and its authors explain that women had mixed feelings about these ‘kicks’.

“We found that women describe the phantom sensations as ‘convincing’, ‘real kicks’ or ‘flutters’,” they reported. “Twenty-five percent of women described the experience as positive.”

Confusing and upsetting?

But many mothers found this experience a negative one, perhaps where a pregnancy or birth had been challenging or other mental health difficulties were at play.

“Twenty-seven percent reported [they] felt confused or upset by the experience,” the researchers confirmed.

The Monash team concluded that while these kicks and flutters are quite commonplace, they are not sure why they are felt.

They theorised that these movements may be perceived because of changes in body awareness and body mapping – called proprioception – during pregnancy.

The team behind this research says this is an understudied area, and point out that postpartum health research, in general, is focused on babies rather than mums. 

We look forward to hearing much more about the links between these phantom kicks and how they might lead us to better optimise mums’ mental health.


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