Pregnant women eagerly anticipate feeling their baby's first movements. However, since perceptions of fetal movement can vary widely, you might worry that the amount of movement you feel at 18 weeks indicates that something is wrong -- whether you feel a lot of movement or none at all. When it comes to fetal movement, however, there is a wide range for what is considered normal.
Fetal Movement Begins
Fetal movement begins as early as 7 to 8 1/2 weeks' gestation. If you have an ultrasound at this stage, you may see your baby stretch, yawn or move his arms and legs. You won't feel these early movements, because at 8 weeks your baby is only about 1/2-inch long. But these first movements indicate that your baby's central nervous system is developing. The movements he makes happen spontaneously rather than being simply reflexive or random movements.
When You First Feel Quickening
Quickening, when a pregnant woman first feels her baby move, usually happens between 16 and 22 weeks' gestation, though it can occur as early as 13 weeks. By 18 weeks, you will likely have noticed some movement if you've already had a baby. According to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, repeat moms experience quickening around 16 weeks. If this is your first baby, though, you might not feel anything yet. First-time moms tend to not recognize fetal movement until around 20 weeks.
When You First Feel Baby's Movement
The earliest fetal movements may feel like flutters, swishes, taps or pocorn popping. Once you start noticing these gentle movements, you may find they appear intermittently. One day you may feel a lot of activity, then nothing the next day. Your baby might also move more in response to a loud noise, a strong emotion you experience or something sugary you drink or eat, such as a glass of orange juice or a candy bar.
How Much You Feel at 18 Weeks
There is no right amount of movement you should feel at 18 weeks, since a number of factors influence when you first feel your baby move. Moms who have already had a baby tend to notice fetal activity earlier because they have experience recognizing a baby's first subtle movements. Thinner moms may sense movement earlier than heavier moms. If you have an anterior placenta -- where the placenta attaches to the front of the uterus -- the placenta may muffle your baby's movements, making them difficult to perceive. Spending time sitting or lying quietly make it easier for you to notice your baby's first gentle flutters.
- Boston University; More About Fetal Activity; Sonia Chawla
- Texas Tech University: Health Sciences Center: Prenatal Care
- American Pregnancy Association; First Fetal Movement: Quickening; July 2007
- BabyCenter; Fetal Movement: Feeling Your Baby Kick; November 2010
- What to Expect; Changes in Fetal Movement; Heidi Murkoff
- Pregnancy.org; Anterior Placenta Pads Fetal Movements; Cynthia Flynn, C.N.M., Ph.D.