Carrying life inside one’s body is really one of the most incredible things that a woman can experience in her lifetime. Most women are blown away by this, and though we all know when that pregnancy test comes back positive that life has begun to grow inside us. The real kicker, pun intended, of when we truly feel that we are carrying life inside of us is when baby registers his/herself by kicking and moving around inside our body.
The first time this happens, even though a woman is expecting it, she may miss it, especially if this is her first baby. Some women describe those first flutters like a butterfly flying about. Others say it feels like eyelashes brushing alongside their stomach. Finally, others feel the kick or movement like popcorn popping. No matter, the first time is incredible and we long to feel it again.
Baby’s movement pattern is usually as unique to them as it is to their mother. Some kick a lot. Some not quite so much. There is no need to panic about the kicking pattern as long as it does not radically change. If that is the case, further medical examination would be merited. Most of the time though, everything is fine with baby and Mom. When in doubt, future Mom needs to check with the doctor. He/she can put the Mom’s mind at ease, and let her know what is happening. But for basic information, what do baby’s kicks tell us? Here are 15 things:
14How Healthy Baby Is
The healthier a baby is, the more he/she will kick, right? Not necessarily. Of course healthier babies are generally more active, but sometimes a very quiet baby is just as health. There is a wide range of what is considered normal. Since babies are still too small in the first trimester to kick hard enough for mom to feel it, feeling baby kick in the second trimester is more likely. However, the position of mom's placenta will also affect how often or how hard she will feel baby kicking.
If it is front facing, also called anterior placenta, movements can be muffled. As Mom-to-be will not hear them, she will not know baby is kicking at that moment. But she will feel baby kicking weeks later. At first baby’s movements may feel like butterflies moving around and then could feel like something else, especially as baby grows bigger. Baby is as unique in her kick and movement pattern as she will be in everything else. This is the same as Mom-to-be herself will be a different Mom that her friend or cousin is or will be.
13How Healthy Mom-To-Be Is
Another thing baby’s kicks will often illustrate is how healthy Mom is. First off all, if she smokes or has bad eating or exercise habits, this could affect baby’s movement and kicking schedule. If she is tired or stressed, this can also throw off a baby’s pattern. However, often the best way to detect if something is wrong with either Mom or baby, is to look at the normal pattern of baby’s kicks and see if most days that pattern is the same. The woman also has to look at her overall health, appetite and sleep schedule and make sure she is getting as much rest as she needs. Regular prenatal screenings will take care of the rest. If she has any issues in between prenatal visits and questions, her doctor or medical care practitioner is only a phone call or email away. When in doubt, it is always better to call her doctor and seek advice.
12How Much Noise Is Around
The noise level in the environment will also affect most babies’ kicking and movement patterns. Often, more noise is associated with more kicking. As the noise is bouncing off Mom-to-be’s stomach, it reverberates back to baby’s ears. In answer he/she may start moving around more inside, kicking and flailing in response to it. Some may like the sound. Some may be a little scared of the sound and retreat further inside, but the baby will definitively react in some way to noise. A pregnant woman may want to avoid overly noisy areas. Medical professionals are not sure yet how too much noise can really affect a baby’ development, but as in a lot of cases, it is better safe than sorry. Extremely noisy environments are good to stay away from. The pregnant woman herself will also have less tolerance for noise. She will be handling aches, pains, food cravings, and possibly nausea and sleep issues so it is best all around.
11How Much Light Is Around
As a baby’s eyes are not fully developed, most will turn away from any light being shined at the Mom’s belly or in any other light trying to filter in. They will kick more to get away from it, or they will kick with a different intensity. Their eyes are still in the developmental phase and they cannot tolerate or see much. They will shut their eyes and turn away. Sometimes heart accelerations are felt or can be heard if a pregnant woman is being examined.
Babies love the soft, warm and dark area of the womb. It is optimal for baby’s brain and body growth, and as nature usually intends it, they come out when they are ready to handle our bright cooler world. With babies born prematurely, nurses in NICU’s now try to recreate the dark warm womb experience. They want it to feel as close as possible to baby still being inside the mother. They will look at the light only when they are ready. Babies see shades of red or orange. When the time is right, they will see all colors.
10If Baby Likes What Mom Ate
There are many different statements about eating spicy food. Some schools of thought say that it makes morning sickness and stomach irritability worse. Some say the opposite. But love it or leave it, spicy food does make baby react. Often times this reaction is in the form of baby kicking more inside Mom’s stomach. Whether this is due to them loving chilli or a delicious Indian or Thai dish or hating it, we don’t really know. Here Mom-to-be would have to use her own feelings to determine if the spicy food was a hit or miss. As long as the kicking spells were not painful for her and baby is fine, she could continue eating spicy food. As with many other things, Mom-to-be has to use her own judgment of how things are going. The other good thing about spicy food is that there is some evidence it may introduce babies to new tastes once they are born. What Moms eat will be in her breast milk so time will tell.
9If Baby Hears Mom's Voice
Babies are hardwired even while still in utero to respond to their parents’ and other familiar voices that they hear through their mother’s womb. They will not only respond to noises, but also voices. They will begin to recognize the sounds of their parents’ vocal intonations. Their way of telling Mom and Dad they hear them, is by kicking and moving toward the source of the sound. Babies become very used to the sounds they hear every day in the womb - the sounds of mom’s blood pumping through her vessels, the sounds her stomach makes when it is digesting food, the way her voice sounds as it reverberates through the womb.
Babies even prefer the sound of their mother’s and father’s voice to soothing and familiar pieces of music. In a popular study, a group of mothers read “The Cat in The Hat” to their babies in utero. Babies were so motivated to hear their mothers’ voices, that after birth when they were hooked up to the recordings where they could select music and sound by sucking on a nipple, they did whatever they could to get to the one of their mother's recording.
8If Baby Wants Attention
If Mom has been active all day and suddenly pauses to catch her breath or puts her feet up to rest on the couch or in bed, she may only then notice baby moving. Baby has probably been doing some little movements while Mom was in motion. She would not have felt those due to being busy. Now baby will actually sense the quiet and calm as Mom is sitting down, and baby will actually kick and make sudden movements to make Mom know that he/she is in there and wants attention like NOW. It’s very common that babies will do this. Sometimes if Mom is also reacting to something in surprise or is shocked by something, she’ll feel a jolt of adrenaline surge through her. This will affect baby, too. And baby would react by kicking or moving about inside Mom giving her notice that they are there and at attention.
7If Something Is Wrong
As previously mentioned, most Moms-to-be know by this time what their baby’s regular quick frequency is in a day. If they are able to notice less kicking and movement in general, this could mean that something is wrong with baby in utero. After having thought back to the day and seeing if maybe she has been on the go for a while without a break or a snack, Mom-to-be could try and rest for a bit, have a power snack, and see if the kicking frequency goes up. If not, her next call should be to her medical care practitioner, midwife or obstetrician to get to the bottom of what the issue could be. The sooner she gets medical help, the better it will go for her and baby. The most important thing is for her to stay calm, take a deep breath, and take the next step of action.
6If Baby Is Just Active
On the other hand, reduced kicks might not mean anything is wrong either. It could be due to the fact that Mom-to-be has been on the go for awhile, not had time to have a decent snack, or maybe she has not been sleeping the best. This would not be a surprise due to the little person growing inside of her taking up a lot of room in her life, literally and figuratively. The best thing for her to do as mentioned above, is rule out any serious issues by calling her doctor. They will be able to put her fears to rest and even give her tips on how to help perk up baby's energy. A pregnant woman has to also remember that though her baby’s kicking frequency was probably relatively the same day in day out, there were times that they probably kicked more or less in a small span of time. She just never paid attention as it was barely noticeable. As there is no one normal amount of times that babies kick, Mom-to-be would need to remember that and not panic either.
5If Baby Is Working Out
What if Mom-to-be just finished a major power workout? She did an amazing aerobic workout, Zumba-ed her way into next week, and now feels like a million dollars? Well, guess what? So will baby! He/she will be all revved up, energized and feeling so pumped he/she will be kicking up a storm. It’s almost as if they would be saying to Mom, “Hey, next time let’s Zumba some more.” As Mom’s heart rate starts to go back down to normal from being pumped to her max, so will baby’s have to settle back down, too. Baby will respond to this adrenaline rush activity by kicking up a storm, moving, punching and rolling around doing cartwheels inside of Mom-to-be’s stomach. It may be disconcerting to her and she may be worried just how much baby is kicking and moving. But she must remember that baby is in their own cool down mode while they get back to their regular routine.
4If Circulation Is Going Well
Another way Mom can jump start baby’s kicking and make sure their circulation is in good condition is by her making sure when it is time for her to rest that she lie on her left side. Often times, lying on the left side helps stimulate better circulation in baby’s body as well as for Mom-to-be. And when baby’s circulation is going well, well, the next thing is that the kicking starts up again. Baby may be kicking more for a while or so it seems. Really this is because she was feeling low on energy and then baby will also be feeling tired. With this new revved up energy, the kicking will commence to a higher speed before baby goes back to his or her usual amount of kicking per day. Whenever Mom-to-be is feeling low on energy herself and is understandably worried about baby, this is one of the best things she could do.
3If Baby Is Hopped Up On Sugar
Another time Mom-to-be may notice a big increase in baby’s kicks is after she has indulged in a particular kind of snack, the kind many of us adore pregnant or not. A snack that is high in sugar, like candy, chocolate or ice cream while helping us tantalize our taste buds, will also share the joy with baby. They will react with more kicks, energy and momentum. After all, sugar is sugar. The thing to remember is to limit these kinds of snacks. Having too much is not good for Mom-to-be’s health or her future baby’s even if she is in perfect health and can tolerate sugar. Junk food is fine in moderation, but the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables are better for Mom-to-be and her baby. When baby’s energy is up she will be kicking up a storm for a bit, kind of like a sugar high, then will gradually decrease to a normal level of moving.
2If Baby Wants To Prepare Mom For A Nocturnal Schedule
Babies pick the strangest times to have a big party in their Mom’s stomach. One of their favorite times of the day to hand Mom a sombrero is usually between the hours of 9pm-1 am. Some say this is to prepare Mom for when they are born and will be staring their nocturnal risings. The other reason is due to the fact that Mom’s blood sugar levels drop at this time. Again then, Mom is quiet. She is usually in bed resting, falling asleep, or maybe even asleep already. Baby will feel Mom’s quiet body and lack of movement and want to bring her up to speed as to what has been happening in utero since the last time they touched base earlier in the day. Regardless baby will be kicking up a storm. Mom will usually respond with some kind of movement and touching her belly. She will be encouraged to hear baby and baby will be encouraged to continue talking with Mom. It’s all kind of cute, except when Mom is tired and wishing baby would go to bed.
1If Baby Will Grow Up Hyperactive
There was an Old Wives Tale that said that the more hyper or active a baby was with kicking and movement inside the womb, the more they would mix up their days and nights after birth and be a hyperactive child. This is no scientific proof that supports this, but interestingly a study was done where a baby’s movement in utero was measured, and later at one and two years of age their activity level was tested. Some were more hyperactive and had settling or regulation issues, however the results were inconclusive. Many parents swear that their little kicker was a little kicker in the womb, buy many also worry that if baby is not kicking a lot that means he/she is not well or strong. There is no correlation between kicking and not kicking in the womb and long term benefit. Moms-to-be just need to keep track of what is normal for her and her baby and then she has something to go on with the doctor if she is nervous.
So there are 15 things the baby’s kick can tell us. It is incredible what babies know and can teach us. They are connected with Moms even in the womb and the bond and love that they share will be something that will only continue to grow stronger.
Sources: Belly Belly, What To Expect , Babble, Today's Parent, Pregnancy In Hub, BabyCentre UK
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