That first bit of belly movement can be a blend of terrifying and exciting, mostly because we know it means there really is a little person living in there and now mom finally has some actual proof! It can also feel a bit alien, especially to women experiencing pregnancy for the first time, there is this sense of "other" or "intruder" and it takes time and many kicks later until it registers as cute or even reassuring.
The funny thing about movement in the womb is we find it a little disturbing at first, but once we have grown accustomed to it, if it stops or slows, we immediately begin to freak out about it! Pregnancy is sure to make us all a bit more paranoid than we used to be, but it's all about baby and making sure they are healthy.
Worrying certainly goes hand in hand with motherhood and since we don’t really have much of a window into the womb besides the occasional ultrasound, we depend on baby’s movements to tell us that everything is going just swimmingly.
Hopefully today's list of 15 things that movement in the womb can tell you will put you at ease and help you understand what those little movements are communicating to you, you know, besides just saying "hi future parents!"
15 It's More Than Just A Kick
Movement in the womb is more than just a tiny kick, there’s a lot going on in there and not everything we feel is a kick to let us know they’re there. Baby is growing and that first bit of movement means they’re big enough to actually explore their surroundings in the womb a bit. What you call a kick can be movement of the diaphragm, hiccups, hand movements, turning from side to side, and sometimes if your baby is feeling a bit more adventurous, they’ll even do little somersaults! A lot of these movements happen without us even noticing it! As they get bigger you’ll begin to feel those limbs kicking and stretching, but until then you’ll feel flutters or swishing feelings in your abdomen. It’s a crazy feeling to know that a full on kick means they’re nearing their grand exit!
14 Baby Is Aware
Listening to music? Talking? Sleeping? Eating? Baby is aware of it all! They may not be able to see you but they definitely respond to stimuli. Here's a fun fact, if you're ever at the beach with that baby belly and expose the bump to some sunlight, you may notice some extra movement because baby can see it getting brighter in there, they may even want to turn away from the light that's disturbing their beauty rest or they may want to move towards it curiously. Either way they are moving, and experiencing a lot of what you're experiencing. This response to external stimuli is part of baby’s normal development, it’s their prep for the things they will hear and see once they are on the outside. Those familiar sounds will be of great comfort to them, so don’t think talking to your bump is a wasted effort, it’s not!
13 Food Energy
You may feel hungrier during your pregnancy because you are essentially sharing your nutrients with a little person who needs the extra energy just as much, if not more than you do. Growing is hard work! They get a jolt of energy when you eat and they may become more active because of it. If you ingest more sugary items you will notice baby nearly bouncing off the walls of your womb, which is why they may ask you to drink a little juice before a 3D Ultrasound if you want to get some clearer pictures. You will also notice baby’s activity levels increasing after a big meal, so buffets and holiday dinners will definitely become more interesting with the fetal movements telling you they’re really enjoying the food too, mommy!
12 Reduced Kicks Are A Red Flag
You will be told by your OB to pay attention to your baby's active times, they have their own schedule even before they're born and they are fairly consistent with the times they choose to be still and the times they choose to move around in your belly. If you notice that baby's busy times become quiet it may be time to see a doctor; it may not mean anything at all, but it's still better to check in and have peace of mind. It's also important to remember that baby's movements will slow down during the last bit of pregnancy because baby is running out of room! Healthy babies kick around 15-20 times in a day; reduced fetal movements raise concern because it may mean the fetus is not getting enough nutrition or oxygen. In any case, less movement would be further assessed by an ultrasound and a non-stress test which checks baby’s heart rate patterns.
11 No Room For Activities
As mentioned above, during the last few weeks of pregnancy it gets a bit squishy in there for baby and you may notice less movement, because they simply can't move around as freely anymore! This is certainly a clear sign for the little one to make their exit, but I’m not always sure baby gets the memo! I'm sure mommas are always more than ready for delivery to happen during this last part of their pregnancy. Another thing you may notice is pain; when baby does move, they can often place those tiny feet and elbows in places you never knew possible, like near your ribs! This can cause shortness of breath and sharp pains and it may cause you to worry about the baby but it's unfortunately normal to be extremely uncomfortable for the last little bit. Baby may be squished, but I’ll guarantee you that they’re a lot more comfortable than you are in the last couple of weeks.
10 Meditating Moms
Calm and Zen mommy equals calm and Zen baby, the math doesn't lie. Stress can cause a lot more movement in the womb, maybe even too much! If you're stressed chances are baby will feel that too! Stress is actually quite dangerous to pregnancy, so it’s important to find time for yourself and destress as much as possible. There have been some studies done showing that when moms use meditation techniques during pregnancy, it can actually slow movement. That being said, it doesn't stop movement, it simply shows that baby is moving less, and although that might be seen as cause for alarm when baby is supposed to be moving ten times an hour, the calm mom is soothing to baby and they'll feel safe and sleepy and still.
9 What's Normal?
It's hard to know what normal feels like when you're talking about pregnancy. There's a lot of things that feel like they shouldn't be "normal" but are. In fact, most things that feel weird are filed under completely normal. I recall making lists of what I was feeling so that I could tell my OB at each appointment and every single thing I thought was weird ended up being par for the course. OB’s will recommend that you keep track of your baby’s movements. Normal amounts of movement are feeling about 10 kicks, flutters, swishes or rolls within 2 hours. It’s a little harder to know what movements you’re looking for when it’s your first pregnancy, but after one, you’ll be a pro at counting kicks, flutters or whatever else baby throws at you.
8 When Do Kicks Start?
First kicks are so exciting, we feel like we’re waiting forever for them and then suddenly they happen and we pretty much mistake them for gas at first, or at least I did! Early kicks can truly only be picked up by an ultrasound scan, as it is too early for mom to sense them. You might feel something more like flutters or even mistake movement for that nauseous funny feeling in your tummy that most of us have in early pregnancy. Women can begin to sense real movements after 18 or 19 weeks, but in order to feel them that early, you would have to be extremely attentive. After about 24 weeks you will feel kicks more often and this is when most women claim to have felt their very first kicks.
7 First Time Moms
If you’ve had a baby before, you know what to look out for in terms of what a baby kick feels like. You may begin to notice those movements as early as 13 weeks. Fetal movement can increase after eating, drinking something sweet, or physical activity. What do they feel like? For me, the first movements felt like little taps or “swooshes.” According to Baby Center, kicks are often described as feeling like “swishes, gas or hunger” at least in the beginning. A mother who has had previous pregnancies are usually able to feel the kicks as early as 13 weeks because they now know what they’re looking for. So don’t feel too badly if you’re a first time mom and don’t feel anything until 20-24 weeks, that’s when most people feel them, as they are stronger movements as well.
6 Night Owl
Many people warn you to get lots and lots of sleep before baby arrives, but what they don’t tell you about is that baby will be keeping you up at night even before they’re born! I was shocked to find out that both my little babies loved to stir in the middle of the night when mommy was finally comfortable enough to get some rest! Of course, right? If you ever notice baby becoming more active at night, there's no real cause for alarm, it has nothing to do with baby being uncomfortable, some are just night owls, they can sense the quiet around them and might even be searching for sound. Many women will notice active periods between the hours of 9pm and 1am, as your blood sugar levels usually drop during this time.
5 Rhythmic Pulse
Feeling a jolt or thumping sensation that continues on and on in your belly? Wondering what it is? It may certainly feel weird and you know it’s not a kick, but it’s honestly nothing to worry about. If you're feeling a pulse of some kind and it doesn't feel at all like a kick, it may be hiccups that you're experiencing, which is quite common in the womb. Babies can hiccup or cough, sneeze, or even cry in the womb! None of these will feel like kicks but you will certainly feel something odd which may cause you to become concerned, but baby is fine, they’re just doing normal baby things that they will continue to do once outside of the womb too! Let’s just call it practice, shall we?
4 Left Side Versus Right Side
This has been debated and studied quite a bit, which side is truly best while sleeping or lying down while pregnant? What was discovered is that laying down on your left side would be best as it provides the best circulation to your baby, which means laying on your left side will have you noticing an increase in womb activity and wiggles from your little one. By lying on your left side, you are improving the blood supply to the fetus which means one happy baby. So, does this mean that lying down on your right side is off limits? Well, no. They say left is best, but sleeping on your right side is still better than sleeping on your back in the later stages of pregnancy. In all honesty, with baby kicking you all night, you’ll be happy enough to find any comfy sleeping positions for the night.
3 Counting Kicks
There isn’t really a standard pattern for fetal movement, but after a few weeks of experiencing movement, you’ll be able to have a rough idea of your baby’s “busy” times. One thing parents do in order to gauge what is normal is something called “kick counts.” This occurs after 28 weeks where baby’s movements are better felt and you can easily count all the tumbles, flicks, kicks, and flips. Step one is to track kicks each day, measuring them about the same time each day, usually during their most active times. The second step is to track kicks after eating a meal when they are most active. Third, sit or lay on your side, placing your hands on your belly and monitor movement. Lastly, each time you feel a roll, kick, thump or turn, mark it down on paper, and keep in mind hiccups don’t count.
2 Predicting Behaviour
There has been much speculation stating that movement in the womb can predict how baby will be outside of the womb. If baby is fairly active in the womb, chances are that they will also enjoy being active outside of the womb, but that may also mean they'll be tricky sleepers. If baby enjoys being fairly still, chances are they'll be great sleepers. I found womb activity to be very telling with both my children’s sleep patterns afterward, so perhaps there is some truth to it after all! Movement is one of the first communications your baby has with you, so why wouldn’t they want to let you know they’re awake or that they’re tired? They’ll let you know a great number of things without a word after they’re born too! A doctor by the name of Jane DiPietro studied fetal activity in over 50 babies and then followed up with behavior assessments at one and two years of age, she found there was a surprising connection between fetal behaviours and behaviours after birth. So there we have it!
1 Sign Of Good Health
Above all, it’s important to remember that fetal movement is a sign of good health! It's a sign that baby is developing as expected and everything is going smoothly. So, no matter how odd those first kicks or movements feel, you'll certainly be glad for feeling them! If you notice that kicks or movements have slowed, take a moment to sit down and try some stimuli, sometimes baby is taking a snooze and a little stimulus will create a reaction and put our minds at ease. Try noises, or shining a light over your belly and if you really want to wake them up, maybe some spicy food too! All those will prompt movement and allow you to sleep easy. Responding to stimuli is also a good sign and all a part of baby’s development.
Sources: TheHealthSite.com, BellyBelly.com, Babble.com, BogglingFacts.com, LivingAndLoving.co.za