One of the jolliest moments in your pregnancy is when you feel baby movement for the very first time.
But many mums-to-be wonder when will it happen for the first time, and something as beautiful as the feel of their baby kicking becomes yet another source of worry.
As with almost everything related to babies, foetal movements are no exact science. Everything will depend on your body, and on your baby, as there are some who are more active than others. But one thing is sure: at some point, you will start feeling the baby moving in belly, and you will love it even when it makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable. In the following article we will tell you everything you need to know about baby movement, so you can relax and enjoy the thrill of it without a single worry that clouds that beautiful moment.
When will I start feeling baby movement?
As you probably imagined, there is no clear answer to this question, as there are several factors that can have an influence in this. Usually, baby movement starts being obvious to the mother when she's around the 18th week of pregnancy, although it can happen before or after that. Most pregnant ladies start experiencing the first wonderful kicks between 16 and 20 weeks pregnant. However, that can vary a whole lot! If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel them until week 24 - although you probably did, but didn't recognise those gentle flutterings as foetal movement. If you've been pregnant before it will be easier for you to recognise baby movement, and you could start feeling as early as week 13, although that isn't all that common.
What does the baby movement feel like?
When we talk about foetal movement we automatically think about the kicks or picture those amazing videos where we see a pregnant belly moving due to the energetic activity that's going on inside. Well, don't expect that to happen at the beginning! As by the middle of your pregnancy the baby is still really small, you will feel light motions or tumbling, twitches or some fluttering, like butterflies. In fact, you could easily think that you have gas or some bowel trouble! Let's take a closer look at what you're going to feel, trimester by trimester:
- Baby movement during the first trimester: Did you know that your baby started moving around week 7 or 8 of pregnancy? However, he's too small for you to feel it yet, so you won't feel absolutely nothing even if he's preparing a circus performance in there. You will have to wait a little bit longer!
- Baby movement during the second trimester: The magical moment is going to happen in this trimester for sure. First, you will feel something very gentle, almost imperceptible, that is known as quickening. As we said before, you may even think you're suffering from gas instead. However, those little butterflies will intensify, and by week 22 to 24 you will be 100% sure that you're feeling your baby's movements. By the end of this second trimester, you may even start to detect some movement patterns or to learn which position is your baby's favourite.
- Baby movement during the third trimester: Now you should be feeling baby move every day, and it will grow more and more intense. By month 7, your baby will be enjoying himself quite a lot in there, and he will be kicking and punching. Sometimes it will even be painful! You may even feel that he's hiccupping sometimes, which is perfectly normal as well. After the 8th month, the baby has grown so much that he doesn't have that much space in the womb, so he won't be able to turn around as much (but he will keep kicking for sure!).
At some point, baby movement will be visible from outside your belly, which means that you can take advantage of that situation and interact with your baby. When you see some protuberance in your belly (which will be a hand or a foot), touch it gently and see how your baby reacts! Maybe he will move.
I don't feel baby movement at all. What can I do?
If this is your first pregnancy, you will probably be analysing any weird feeling in your tummy, especially if you're getting closer to week 20 and still haven't felt them. Keep in mind that you're more likely to feel them if you're chilling and can concentrate in your belly. Sit or lie down, and eat something sugary like a piece of fruit to stimulate your baby.
If you haven't felt a thing by week 25, you should go see your midwife or doctor so they can check that your baby is OK. Don't worry, though, since there could be a perfect explanation for it. Keep in mind that there are many factors that can play a part in this, such as the position of the placenta, your baby's size and even your weight.
How often does the baby move?
At the beginning, you will only feel baby movement sometimes and without a clear pattern or routine, which is normal. Your baby is still tiny, and you can't always feel when he moves. It depends on what position you're in, or on where exactly is he located inside your womb. As time passes, you will be able to detect in what moments or positions you can feel the baby more, and later in the second trimester you will feel baby movement every day.
Should I do a daily kick count?
Yes. There is something stablished called a daily kick count, although you can try to find your best method to be sure that your baby is OK. There are babies who are more active than others, so you can introduce some changes to the standard kick count routine that adapt better to your little one.
Many experts recommend starting with the kick count in week 28, although you can talk about it with your doctor and midwife. This routine consists in sitting down twice a day, relaxed, and count 10 baby movements. This usually takes around an hour, but it can be more, or less. If you can't feel the foetal movement, have a snack to stimulate him, lie down and start again.
Keep in mind that not all babies have the same pattern of activity. What's important is that you don't detect a decrease in movement, and that you discuss with your doctors what is your baby's pattern exactly, to make sure that everything is OK.
Why is my baby not moving as much?
There are many reasons why the baby may not be moving as much. First of all, remember that your baby sleeps in there, so you may have caught him in the middle of a nap. Second, babies are less likely to move if they feel their mother is stressed, which is why you should always relax before a kick count. By the end of your pregnancy, your baby's activity may decrease a little, although it should not be that different. Maybe he moves a little less because there is less space in the womb, but your daily kick count should stay more or less the same. In fact, it is very important that you keep doing it, because a decrease in baby movement can also be a red flag:
- Nutritional problems: If the baby is dehydrated or not well nourished, he could be moving much less.
- Rupture of the membranes: It is possible that the amniotic sac ruptures a little and you're "leaking".
- Placental abruption: It happens when the placenta abruptly detaches from the uterus, which can stop the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
- Foetal Hypoxia: If the umbilical cord gets twisted it may not deliver enough oxygen to the baby, which can have terrible effects in your baby's brain and development.
These eventualities aren't all that common, but they can happen. If you don't count 10 movements in two hours of kick count, you should contact your doctor immediately. However, make sure you're doing the kick count. If you've had a busy day, you may have missed the movements altogether, and may be worrying for nothing. This is why it is important to dedicate a couple of moments a day to lie down, have a snack and wait for the little kicks. And to enjoy them, as there aren't many things in life more beautiful that feeling baby movement while you're expecting.