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'Phantom Kicks’: Women’s Subjective Experience of Foetal Kicks after the Postpartum Period'

Sasan, D, Ward, PGD, Nash, M ORCID: 0000-0002-7429-4924, Orchard, E, Farrell, MJ, Hohwy, J and Jamadar, S 2020 , ''Phantom Kicks’: Women’s Subjective Experience of Foetal Kicks after the Postpartum Period'' , Journal of Women's Health , doi: 10.1089/jwh.2019.8191.

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Background: During pregnancy, a woman will attribute increased abdominal sensations to fetal movement. Surprisingly, many women report that they feel kick sensations long after the pregnancy; however, this experience has never been reported in the scientific literature.Materials and Methods: We used a qualitative approach to survey n = 197 women who had previously been pregnant. We calculated the number of women who had experienced phantom kicks after their first pregnancy, and explored subjective experiences of kick-like sensations in the post-partum period.Results: In this study, we show that almost 40% of women in our sample experienced phantom fetal kicks after their first pregnancy, up to 28 years (average 6.4 years) post-partum. Women described the phantom sensations as “convincing,” “real kicks,” or “flutters.” Twenty-seven percent of women described the experience as nostalgic or comforting, and 25.7% reported felt confused or upset by the experience.Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that phantom kicks in the postpartum period are a widely experienced sensation, which may have implications for a woman's postpartum mental health. The mechanism behind the phantom kick phenomenon is unknown, but may be related to changes in the somatosensory homunculus or proprioception during pregnancy.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Sasan, D and Ward, PGD and Nash, M and Orchard, E and Farrell, MJ and Hohwy, J and Jamadar, S
Keywords: phantom kicks, pregnancy, women, foetus, motherhood
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Women's Health
Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers
ISSN: 1540-9996
DOI / ID Number: 10.1089/jwh.2019.8191
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

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