At first, the movements of your baby are sporadic. But as the weeks progress, your baby begins to become stronger and those kicks more regular -- and sometimes painful -- leaving you sore, especially in the ribs. Just like with any other issue or symptom of pregnancy, you may question if all of this movement is good or if it is a signal that something might be wrong. Truth is, babies move a lot and it is perfectly normal. If you are ever in doubt of the condition of your baby, consult your physician.
During the first trimester, your baby is moving but you won't feel it. That is because the baby is so small, her kicks and punches are absorbed by your body. As you progress through your pregnancy, you will begin to feel random flutters and bubbles in your belly. Over time, these slight feelings will progress to full kicks, which can be felt by placing your hand on your belly. The amount of movement varies with each woman and also how far along you are. During the first few months, you will not feel any movement. Between the 18th to 28th weeks, the movements will be frequent but not exactly on a set pattern. After the 28th week, your baby will be the most active and her movements will form a slight pattern. For instance, you may recognize that she is more active at night. This is because she has sleep cycles just like you.
If you feel that your baby is moving more than she usually does, take some time to think about anything you could have done to cause this burst of movement. Stimulants such as caffeine or exercise will cause your baby to be more active, which equals to more kicks and punches.
When a baby is in the uterus, she is never truly still. Her brain is developing and so is the nerves in her body. These nerves cause twitches in the muscles as her reflexes develop. Her muscles will jump, contract and extend, which will cause her limbs to do the same. Remember, in the beginning of your pregnancy, your baby had plenty of room. By the end of your pregnancy, she has grown to take up any available space in the uterus, which makes it a very cramped environment. Your baby must adjust and to do so, she stretches often. Also, your baby will kick, punch and even play with her hands and toes to entertain herself.
Reasons for Concern
If your baby's movements become unusual or suddenly stop, seek medical attention. For instance, if your baby has been continuously moving for an extended period of time -- think hours, or days -- without stopping, she may be in distress. Also, if you haven't felt your baby move over a period of time, that should also be addressed with your doctor. Remember, anything out of the ordinary should be brought to the attention of your physician immediately.
If you are concerned about your baby's well-being, you can always call your physician or go to your local labor and delivery. Don't feel like your concerns are unfounded -- empower yourself, use your instinct and do not be afraid to ask questions.
- "What to Expect When You're Expecting: Fourth Edition"; Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel; 2008
- "The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth"; Sheila Kitzinger; 2003