How to Recognize Fetal Movement When You're Pregnant

Daughter (4-5) touching belly of pregnant mother sitting on floor by sofa
Fetal movement is usually detected during the second trimester. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Feeling the first flutters and kicks of your baby is a rite of passage for every pregnant woman. While the kicks sometimes act as a way to keep you up all night, they are also an effective indicator of your baby's overall health. A healthy, active baby kicks often and you should feel the kicks during the second trimester. A sudden change in the quality and quantity of your baby's kicks could indicate a problem, which is why it is vital you know how to both detect and track fetal movement.

Step 1

Wait until 14 to 16 weeks to detect regular fetal movement. The first movements feel like flutters or gas bubbles in the stomach. As they become more regular and pronounced, it is easier to define them as actual fetal movements. If you have not felt any fetal movement by the fifth month, tell your OB; she will likely schedule an ultrasound to ensure your baby is growing correctly and your dates are accurate.

Step 2

Lie on your side to feel fetal movement more easily. This position is ideal for "kick counts," a technique where you count a certain number of kicks to track your baby's growth, development and movement.

Step 3

Set a timer and see how long it takes for you to feel 10 kicks. Every baby's activity level is different, but you should feel 10 kicks in less than two hours. If you don't feel 10 flutters, bubbles or kicks in two hours, wait until later in the day and repeat the exercise. Note that early in your pregnancy you will likely feel less movement. Movement does not become a regular occurrence until midway through your second trimester.

Step 4

Record on a chart the time it took to count 10 kicks. A kick count chart allows you to accurately track how frequently your baby moves. For the most accurate chart, count at the same time daily.

Step 5

Bring your chart to your regular prenatal appointment. You can then discuss both the types and quality of fetal movement you have experienced and how it relates to your baby's development. It is also an ideal time to discuss changing fetal movement patterns, such as the decreased movement you will experience as your baby grows and fills more of the uterus.

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