“Come here! I can feel the baby kicking!!”
It’s one of the most exciting moments after finding out that you are pregnant: the first time you feel your baby move inside you. You’ll feel a variety of movements from your baby during your pregnancy, from the first flutterings to some hefty kicks.
It’s one of the loveliest parts of pregnancy and even if you are suffering with morning sickness, a few wriggles from your little one can lift your spirits. However, you might find you start to question how often your baby should move.
When will I first feel my baby move?
You may well be wondering exactly when you will feel your baby move and kick. The answer is that some women feel tiny, fluttery movements, from as early as 14 weeks of pregnancy. Most women will start to notice more significant baby movements in the second trimester, around weeks 18-22.
Before this, your foetus is just too tiny for you to feel any movements, even though they might be turning somersaults in there! The old-fashioned term for this stage of pregnancy is ‘quickening’.
Women who are very slim, as well as those for whom this is not their first pregnancy, may feel the movements sooner. Movements can be mistaken for tummy rumbles—or wind!
Interestingly, if your placenta is at the front of your uterus, this can affect what month you feel your baby kick and it can take slightly longer before you feel movements from your baby.
If you have not felt any movements by the time you get to your fifth month, speak to your GP who can arrange an ultrasound scan. It may be that your dates are wrong and it’s too soon to feel your baby move.
What do baby movements feel like?
In the early days, your baby’s movements feel like a tiny butterfly or goldfish flapping around inside your abdomen. As your baby grows, the feelings change and women describe it as nudges, twitching, or bubbles, or it can even feel like the pangs when you’re hungry.
By the time you reach seven months of pregnancy, you will feel distinct kicks and punches – sometimes strongly. You’ll feel your baby turning over, wriggling, and stretching. When you are near your due date, the movements can be a little painful if your baby kicks downwards towards your bladder and vagina and when they stretch, you may see distinct feet and hands.
When will you feel your baby’s movements most?
It’s obvious that your baby will be felt more easily when you are not rushing about. It may be that when you’re resting, or trying to sleep, they decide that’s a great time to have a little disco. They also perk up if you have sweet or spicy food.
How often should a baby move?
The amount that babies move is like they are – unique. What is very important is that your baby’s movements are consistent – similar from day to day.
When to contact your doctor about your baby movements
All babies are different, but you will come to know your own baby’s patterns. If you aren’t sure how often your baby moves a day, get a kick counter from the charity Kicks Count. A couple of times a day, rest and focus on your baby’s kicks and count them using this handy counter.
Generally speaking, ten movements over the course of an hour is considered normal, though some babies’ ‘normal’ will be a little more or less.
If you think your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped, sit down quietly, and wait to see if you feel your baby moves. Have a snack and a drink, which may encourage movements.
Call your midwife if:
You cannot feel your baby moving as they usually do.
You cannot feel any movement.
There is a change to the way your baby moves.
Note: do not be tempted to buy a home foetal doppler machine which measures your baby’s heartbeat. It’s not reliable to use if you are not trained and you can mistake your heartbeat for your baby’s
It is NOT true that babies kick less near their due date. If you feel your baby’s movements have slowed, get medical advice immediately.
Can a baby move too much?
No, there is no right or wrong. Consistency is the key, so if your baby’s kicks change, it’s worth paying attention and speaking to your midwife.
Why are babies’ movements important?
A baby's movements in the womb are important because it gives you a guide to how your baby is growing and developing. Gradually, your little one gets stronger and sometimes you’ll feel as if they are doing forward rolls or boxing. Some babies have quiet days in the womb, which is normal but it’s important for you to be aware of what’s normal for you, and act if something unusual happens.