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When Should I Feel My Baby Move?

A pregnant mother will often feel the first moves of her baby in utero at sometime between 16 and 25 weeks into the pregnancy. Typically, mothers in their first pregnancy feel the baby move later on, as they don’t notice the earliest movements. These first flutters are often mistaken for gas, hunger, or stomach upset. Mothers in their second pregnancy or beyond are more likely to feel the earliest movements, as they are more in tune with their pregnant bodies, and may know a more about what to expect. Some experienced mothers have reported feeling fetal movements as early as 13 weeks pregnant.

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14 What Do The Movements Feel Like?

The first movements that occur between 13 and 16 weeks are called “quickening”. These movements are usually described as flutters or butterflies, most women in their first pregnancy are not able to distinguish them from stomach discomfort. Some women, often those who are of small stature or who are very thin, may feel movement the soonest. If you don’t feel them, don’t panic, as many first time mothers do not feel the first movement until 16 to 20 weeks. Even if it is not your first pregnancy, remember that all women are different, and all pregnancies are different as well, some feel the baby sooner or later. There is no reason for concern as long as the movements are felt by 25 weeks. During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, the movements of your baby will be more obvious and noticeable.

13 How Much Will My Baby Move?

The first flutters that occur early in pregnancy will be sporadic and unpredictable. But as the pregnancy advances, near the end of second trimester, kicks, pokes, and other movements will become stronger and more defined. By the 3rd trimester, you can expect your baby to move about 30 times each hour, even though you may not notice them all, unless you are counting or tracking them. Your baby might be most active when you stimulate him/her through touches on the belly, or even through your voice. The baby may also respond to certain foods or drinks that you ingest. Many women say that they feel the baby move most frequently in the evening hours, or during the night. This could be because during this is the time when the mother is still, quiet, and at rest, and therefore more likely to notice or to be waiting for the movements. Science says that the extra movement could also be related to fluctuating blood sugar levels in the expectant mother that more commonly occur at night.

12 What to Expect: First and Second Trimester

First Trimester - In the first weeks of pregnancy, you can’t expect to feel any movements from your unborn baby. The fetus is simply way too small and is still buried deep in the cushioning of the womb. It doesn’t mean the baby isn’t moving, because he or she very likely is. At this point, you’ll feel a little more than queasiness, but you might be able to see and hear the heartbeat on your doctor’s Doppler screen.

Second Trimester - Early to midway through the second trimester, you will begin to feel your baby’s first movements. The position of the placenta and the frame of the mother can influence how soon these movements are felt. Many women describe these first movements as butterflies, popcorn popping, bubbles bursting, or evening tapping and tickling. The 5th month of pregnancy is when most women experience quickening, or the fist identifiable movements of the baby. What starts out feeling like subtle twitches will quickly increase in strength and activity. This happens as your baby grows and strengthens his or her muscles and motor skills. By the 6th month of pregnancy, you may begin to notice what feels like dancing or acrobatics, and you might be able to distinguish a pattern between high activity, restful wakefulness, and sleep.

11 Third Trimester

Fetus concept

By this time, your baby has grown a lot and you can probably feel most of his or her movements. The quarters are becoming closer, and it is more likely that you can feel them as he or she flexes, bumps around, and even rolls over. In the 7th month, the kicks and punches can have enough strength to startle you and even cause temporary pain or discomfort. During this month, you might even notice when your baby has the hiccups. By month 8, the baby is probably big enough that he or she can no longer perform the somersaults that he or she was performing earlier in the pregnancy. This is the time when you might start to notice knees, feet, and elbows pushing strong enough to be seen from the outside. You can gently nudge the baby to get him or her to move or you can lie down and change positions if you are particularly uncomfortable. For the 9th month and beyond, the rapid movements will slow down considerably, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel your baby. The final stretch of pregnancy is often the time when toes poke your ribs, or kicks stimulate your bladder. The movements of your baby might wake you up in the middle of the night, forcing you to reposition.

10 Is it Really Necessary to Count the Movements?

There isn’t any scientific evidence that keeping track of these movements is an accurate way to judge normal fetal development. Some, but not all doctors may recommend you to take fetal counts. Counting may simply be a way to ease a worried mother’s mind, or it may be recommended if the mother or baby have underlying medical issues. If you choose to take fetal movement counts, is it generally believed that the baby should move around 10 times during one hour. If you don’t feel the baby moving on the first try, attempt again at different time in the day, especially after you have just eaten. It is possible that the baby was just sleeping during the previous attempt. Regardless of whether you are counting kicks or not, you should contact your health care provider if you feel that your baby is moving less than normal, or if you believe that your baby is not moving at all.

9 What if the Baby Isn’t Moving?

pregnant baby belly

Sometimes women don’t feel their baby, or they do not understand what the baby’s movements feel like, even up to 25 weeks. It is possible that the baby just isn’t very active, as compared to other babies. As the baby continues to grow, you will start to distinguish the movements, and you may even notice a pattern as to when they are the most active. Also, babies in the womb may be less likely to move when they are sleeping. If you are late in the 3rd trimester, your baby may be less active as he or she gets bigger and starts to have less room to move around. Women who are overweight or women, who carry the placenta wall at the front of the uterus, may not feel much movement during the entire pregnancy. Often, if you fall into either of the categories, you doctor will schedule you for more frequent monitoring. If you feel that the movements have decreased significantly or have stopped completely for longer than two hours, contact your physician immediately.

8 Strange or Shocking Movements

baby pregnant belly kicking

Knocking - Some women describe a strong tapping sensation, as if the baby in utero is knocking. Others will claim that the movement is even audible, and sounds like popping, clicking, or knocking. These feelings are often described during the early movements, in the quickening process.

Rolling - Often when the baby changes position in the womb, women can feel the sensation of a ball rolling around in the stomach. Some women report feeling nauseous or sick to their stomach when this occurs.

Seeing the Outline of a Foot - Sometimes, as the baby repositions or kicks, he or she will momentarily push the foot up against the belly. The “foot print” may be felt by pressing against, or may even be visible from the outside.

Spasms - It is not uncommon for women to feel concerned that their baby is too active or having seizures in the womb. This is usually not the case. Often in the first few weeks of movement, the noticeable movements are sporadic and infrequent. The sudden, unpredictable spur of activity is typically normal.

Baby Hiccups - These movements are rhythmic motions that can occur every couple of seconds. It is a normal part of fetal development, and is even viewed as healthy.

7 Painful Kicks or Punches

Strong and sometimes painful fetal movements can be significant enough to stop you in your tracks, cause your eyes to water, or to justify a yelp in pain. These types of movements are most common in the second trimester, as the baby grows in size and strength, and is not yet hindered by lack of space.

6 Surprising Reasons Changes in Baby Movement

Anxiety for the Mother - Adrenaline can have the same effect on the baby, as is does on the mother. If you are nervous, scared, or excited about something, you may feel an increase in fetal movements while the baby receives extra doses of adrenaline.

Sex - For some babies, the rocking motion of sex, and the rhythmic uterine contractions that follow orgasm, can lull the baby to sleep. For others, the babies become more active in response to sex. Both are completely normal and healthy reactions. And just in case you’re wondering, sex is in no way harmful or unsafe during pregnancy, unless your physician has told you otherwise.

Spicy or Sweet Foods - Your baby eats what you eat, and is exposed to all kinds of flavors via the amniotic fluid from early on. Especially sweet or pungent foods have a strong effect on the taste of the amniotic fluid. The baby may be especially likely to respond to new foods, sugar, garlic, or curry. Studies show that flavors introduced while in utero, can affect the child’s food preferences later in life.

Can My Baby Move Too Much?

pregnant baby belly

No! All babies and pregnancies are different. There is no such thing as a baby who moves too much in the womb. Very active babies are usually viewed as exceptionally healthy. Sudden spurts of unusually high activity could be result of caffeine or sugar. If you notice that your baby responds in such a way to stimulants, it might be a good idea to cut back on them. Always trust your instincts, and if you feel that movements are amiss or unnatural, report them immediately.

5 Can the Baby Movements Injure Me?

pregnant baby belly

Although fetal movements can be quite painful, it is unlikely that your baby’s movements can cause any real damage. If you find the kicks and jabs to be unbearable, try to determine what may be causing the extra strong activity. Your baby may be responding to a food or activity, eliminating the cause may calm your baby down. You can also try to soothe the baby, by shifting positions, rubbing your tummy, or even singing to him or her.

4 When Can Other People Feel the Baby Move?

Sometime in the 2nd trimester, your partner and other people outside the womb will be able to feel the baby move. Sometimes it can take longer if the placenta is at the front of the uterus or if the pregnancy is in a woman who is overweight. Every pregnancy is unique, but the movements outside the belly are usually not noticeable until sometime after the mother feels them inside the womb.

3 Are Movement Patterns Different with Multiples?

What to expect with fetal movements with twins or more, is not usually much different than pregnancies with one baby. First movements are usually felt around the same time. Sometimes a mother can distinguish between the movements of each baby, other times she can’t. The only notable difference with multiples is that movements slow down sooner, as the babies run out of room in the womb.

2 Am I feeling Braxton Hicks Contractions?

Many women mistake the “practice contractions” for strong baby kicks or other movements. Others mistake strong movement for contractions, when they aren’t at all. Late in pregnancy, the baby rolling around can cause the sensation of the stomach stretching or hardening, or false labor called Braxton Hicks Contractions can cause a similar sensation. Either is possible and neither is harmful. Either way, when the labor is real, you will know!

1 Am I in Labor?

While it is unlikely that baby movements could be confused with true labor, it is possible that you could feel your baby shift or “drop” when labor is near. Some women say that they can feel when the baby turns head down, or even when the head drops into the pelvis. Others do not feel this at all, as it happens gradually rather than suddenly. Every woman and every pregnancy is different. Usually, labor will not follow directly after the baby descends, but will begin within a few days or weeks.

When assessing the movements of your baby, that every woman, every pregnancy, and every baby is unique. Don’t compare yourself or the pregnancy to others, and always trust your own judgment. When you feel that something has changed, or is not right, contact your physician for further evaluations.

Sources: Webmd.com, Americanpregnancy.org, Whattoexpect.com, Thelaboroflove.com, Npr.org, BabyCentre.co.uk, Parents.com

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