Can a Fetus Get Shaken-Baby Syndrome?

Cynthia Flynn's picture


Dear Midwife,

Hi. I'm Chelsea and I'm 5 months pregnant. I enjoy feeling my baby girl move. I do this by applying small to medium amounts of pressure to my tummy causing her to respond with movement, kicking, or rolling around. I am very thin for my height which caused me to begin to feel her movements at about 16 to 18 weeks.

Yesterday, a friend wanted to feel. To arouse baby Jamie, she used the same medium-light pressure that I do but was shaking her head quickly, almost vigorously up and down. She did this a few times and would also lightly squeeze or poke at my tummy, I'm almost sure I'm over-reacting, because while she did it, it did not bother me, however, when she left she said bye baby Jamie with a light rub and mentioned, "now that I've shaken her to death I should probably leave her be."

This bothered me and I am SO afraid that I could have caused shaken baby syndrome, or some sort of retardation or brain damage. Everything I do I'm cautious and I can't believe I let this by. I'm so afraid I did something wrong. I could never forgive myself. I was hoping you could tell me everything is okay and she's well protected in there. It's making me worry like crazy. Please write back.

Thank-you.A SUPER worried mom to be,


It is unlikely that your friend caused shaken baby syndrome, but it is a good idea to be very gentle with your baby in the future, just to be safe.

-- Cynthia, CNM. PhD.