Feeling your baby move is one of the major milestones of any pregnancy, but it can be startling at first. Your baby’s movements might feel like popping popcorn or fluttering butterfly wings at first and feel sharper as the baby gets larger. These movements sometimes might cause you pain or keep you up at night, but they’re a positive sign that your baby is active and moving around.
When It Starts
Not all moms-to-be will feel movement at the same point, but most women will start to feel the baby move somewhere between 16 and 22 weeks into the pregnancy. Some women can feel the first movement as early as 13 weeks. It might be easier for women who’ve had previous pregnancies to notice movement than women who are having their first baby. First-time mothers might not feel anything until 18 to 20 weeks.
Once you’ve felt the first kick, your baby’s movements should become steadily more frequent. Generally speaking, a healthy baby will move at least 10 times over the course of two hours. His movements eventually might slow down once you’re 32 weeks or more pregnant, since the baby will have less room to move around in the uterus. Once you’ve begun to feel your baby kick, keeping track of the frequency of his movements will give you an idea of how he’s developing.
Counting the Kicks
Keeping a log of your baby’s movements allows you to notice patterns in her movement and ensure nothing is wrong. Start keeping track when you enter your 28th week of pregnancy, or start in the 24th week if you’ve had any complications. Each day during the time when you feel the baby move the most, lie on your left side and time how long it takes to feel her move 10 times. Write down the date and the length of time.
Signs of a Problem
While it’s normal for your baby to be stiller on some days than others, there might be a problem if you notice that you don’t feel your baby move over the course of several hours or if the times on your kick count start increasing. Call your doctor immediately if you sense any change in your baby’s movement -- this is one indicator of the baby's well-being.
- Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology: Maternal Knowledge of Fetal Movements in Late Pregnancy
- Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Department of Perinatal Research: Decreased Fetal Movements in Late Pregnancy -- Importance Today?
- The Cochrane Collection: Fetal Movement Counting for Assessment of Fetal Wellbeing (Review)
- Allina Health: Third Trimester -- Fetal Movement Counts