How to Tell the Difference Between Gas Bubbles and the Baby Moving

Feeling your baby move can be one of the most exciting parts of your pregnancy. Your unborn baby's movements may reassure you that she is healthy and can help give your obstetrician clues about how quickly your baby is growing.

Gas or just the baby moving? (Image: NataliaDeriabina/iStock/GettyImages)

According to Clark Gillespie, author of "Your Pregnancy Month by Month," you might have difficulty telling the difference between your baby's movements and gas bubbles and knowing what to watch for can help you determine which is which.

Why Your Unborn Baby Moves

Your unborn baby's movements are significant because they allow you peace of mind, knowing that your baby is physically active and growing well. Your obstetrician will monitor fetal movement to ensure that your baby is healthy and on track developmentally.

In the early days of your pregnancy, you may feel flutters of movement that are most likely gas bubbles, reports Michelle Smith, author of "Taboo Secrets of Pregnancy: A Guide to Life With a Belly." These can occur long before you feel your baby move for the first time.

Gas Bubble or Fetal Movement?

A gas bubble in your abdomen will feel like a small flutter or a gentle pop, notes Smith. On most occasions, a gas bubble will pass in a few seconds or so and will not return. Fetal movements are more consistent and will be recognizable as you learn to feel the different types of movement.

According to Gillespie, you may feel a strong kick or punch, a rolling sensation as your baby turns over or shifts position or a "rhythmic tapping" feeling that is most likely your baby having the hiccups.

When You Will Feel Your Baby's Movements

Your baby will begin to move around sometime during your second month of pregnancy, reports Gillespie. You will not be able to feel these movements because your unborn baby is still far too small for you to detect his movements.

He is also well-protected in your expanding uterus, which will prevent you from feeling this initial activity. At about four months of pregnancy, you will likely feel your baby's first kick or movement. Before this time, any flutters or movements are most likely gas bubbles making their way through your intestines.

Why You Should Monitor Your Baby's Movements

The ability to detect and track your baby's movements is an important aspect of monitoring her health and well-being until she is born, reports Gillespie. Regular movement will let you and your doctor know that your little one is actively growing and developing in your uterus.

Keep in mind that each baby moves according to her own pattern, adds Smith, and what is normal for someone else may not be normal for you. Keep track of when your baby is most active and when she is more likely to be resting. If she maintains a consistent pattern of movement, chances are everything is progressing normally. An added benefit is that you will begin to form a bond with your baby as you learn her routine and movement schedule.

Movements to Watch Out For

Toward the end of your pregnancy, you may experience fetal movement and gas bubbles at the same time. You will likely be able to identify your baby's movement, but gas bubbles are more likely to cause abdominal pain. Fetal movement may be uncomfortable but generally not painful.

If your baby's movements have decreased, make sure to call your doctor, cautions Smith, because he will likely want to check on your little one. If you are close to your delivery day, your baby will naturally slow her movements as she gets too large to move around comfortably.

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