Find out when you'll feel those first flutters, whether you should be counting your baby's kicks and lots more.
Undoubtedly one of the most magical moments of pregnancy is when you feel your baby move for the first time. For many women this symbolises the point when their pregnancy finally becomes 'real' as they start to tune in with their baby's kicks, somersaults and naps. However, as with anything pregnancy related this exciting development brings with it a whole host of questions about what you should be feeling and whether what you are experiencing is 'normal'. So, to help you enjoy this wonderful experience without having to stress we explain all you need to know about foetal movement.
When will I feel my baby move?
The first time around most women start to feel their baby's in-utero movements somewhere between 18th and 20th week of their pregnancy. It tends to be a little bit earlier (16 - 18 weeks) for women expecting their second or subsequent babies as they have experienced this 'quickening' before and know what to expect from their baby's first movements. However, despite this 'norm' you shouldn't worry if you feel your baby's movements slightly earlier or later than this as your ability to sense the movement will depend on a number of factors including your weight, the position of your placenta and how active both you and your baby are.
How will it feel?
To begin with your baby's first movements will feel more like a gentle 'flutter' in your tummy as he or she can stretch and somersault in your uterus with plenty of room to move around. In fact the sensation can be so different from the defined 'kicks' that you'd expect that many women mistake it for wind to begin with!
As you progress through your second trimester you'll gradually notice the fluttering become stronger and more noticeable as there is still plenty of room for acrobatics in your bump. However, it's not until the start of third trimester approaches that you may begin to sense your baby's cycles of activity and notice when he or she has a nap and is quiet for half an hour or so, has the hiccups (felt as lots of little jolty movements) or hears a loud noise.
You're also likely to find that your baby becomes more active after you've eaten (the rise in your own blood sugar will give baby a little energy boost too) or when you rest (when you're still you'[re more in tune with baby's movements and more likely to notice activity) and quieter when you are active and moving around (the swaying motion of your walk can sometimes lull baby into sleep).
As you progress through your final trimester you'll start to notice your baby's movements change as they finish growing and somersault space becomes more limited. Now you're more likely to feel stronger, more defined kicks (sometimes in the ribs and sometimes in the stomach so your partner can feel it too!) as baby stretches his limbs and starts to move towards a position suitable for birth.
You'll continue to feel your baby's movements right up to when you give birth and you meet him or her for the first time, although there will be a definite slow down as your due date approaches and there is little room in your uterus to spare.
Do I need to count my baby's kicks?
In the past midwives have used the kick counting system to follow development however many no longer see such a 'strict' monitoring regime as necessary. The assumption was that you should feel at least 20 kicks over the space of 2 hours however as this is so dependent on whether you've been active, where your baby is in his sleep/wake cycle and how your baby is positioned it isn't hugely reliable. Now the focus is very much on going with what's 'normal' for you and baby. Some women have a very clear sense of their baby's regular pattern of movements while others don't ever sense a distinguishable 'cycle', because of this you're in the best position to know when things are as they should be regardless of the exact number of kicks you sense an hour.
It can be tempting to compare the number of kicks you feel with your expectant friends or even against past pregnancies. However, this is in no way, shape or form a predictor of how your baby is developing and/or how active he or she will be when they're born. As long as you continue to feel some movement on a regular basis everything should be fine.
I've can't feel any movement, should I be worried?
If you're ever concerned that you haven't felt your baby move around for a while it's a good idea to have a little something to eat and sit quietly and calmly to see if this helps you fall back in tune with their movements. Of course, if at any point you are concerned your baby isn't moving as he or she should be it's a good idea to call your doctor or midwife for reassurance if only for your peace of mind.
Have you been 'kick counting'? Why not share your pregnancy experiences and questions with other members on the AskBaby forums?