Medically reviewed by Dr Kristy June Dinampo
One of the most wonderful feelings during pregnancy is that of your baby moving inside of you. It makes the pregnancy feel all that more real.
There really is a baby growing inside of you and you literally feel it!
It’s a beautiful and very special moment.
For that reason, most pregnant women are very eager to start feeling their baby’s movements as soon as possible.
Your baby’s movements will become very important to you as your pregnancy progresses. The movements often help us feel closer and more bonded with our baby.
They also provide reassurance that everything is well and your baby is growing and developing as he or she should.
When Should I Start Feeling Baby Moving?
Although some women do feel the baby moving early, it’s normal to feel the first flutters at around 18-22 weeks.
Sometimes those early movements won’t be felt until 25 weeks.
Before that your baby is simply too small to create much sensation.
After 25 weeks however, you should start to feel movements which grow in intensity as your pregnancy continues onwards.
The earliest movements are called ‘quickening’, and it’s quite likely that you will feel this a little earlier in a second pregnancy than in your first.
Perhaps it’s because you know what to look for and you don’t overlook the tiny fluttering movements.
Don’t panic if you don’t feel movements before the 22-week mark.
If you’re overweight you might not feel movements until a bit later than average. This is because of the extra tissue between you and baby.
If you’re worried that you haven’t felt movement after around the 25th week check things out with your doctor or midwife for peace of mind.
Feeling Movement and the Placenta Position
Where the placenta is located makes a lot of difference to how and where movement is felt.
If you have an anterior placenta – when the placenta is at the front of your uterus – movement is often felt later and a lot less.
You’ll often already know if you have an anterior placenta from your 20-week anomaly scan.
What Does my Baby Moving Feel Like?
You’re more likely to feel those first movements when you’re resting somewhere quietly and you’re sitting or lying down.
How it feels to you and the words you use to describe it may be completely different to another woman.
Many agree that it feels like butterflies, or a little flutter, the first time it happens.
It may be such a light sensation that you question whether it is your baby or something else such as gas or simply your stomach growling.
However, you’ll become more accustomed to the feeling and sensations of your baby’s movement the more frequent they become.
You’ll instantly know that it’s your baby having a little stretch or move around.
By the end of the second trimester, there will be no mistaking it and the sensations will be stronger, with kicks, elbows, and jabbing.
How Often Does Baby Move?
By the third trimester, your baby will move on average around 5-10 times every hour. Of course you might not feel every single movement, especially if you’re busy, but you will feel a lot of them.
You’ll also notice that your baby begins to get into a routine of resting and moving. He or she will move more at certain times of day than others.
You may notice that between 9 pm and 1 am your baby is awake and moving around a lot, which is ironic seeing as you’re trying to get to sleep.
This can cause some sleep disturbances, especially if the movements are strong.
The reason for a lot of activity at this time is due to an increase in your blood sugar levels and its effects on your little one. (This is normal and nothing to be concerned about).
As your pregnancy progresses into the third trimester, you may notice that your baby starts to respond to your voice, your touch on your stomach, music or even loud noises. You may find that they respond more to your partner’s voice than your own.
What if My Baby Moves Less (or Stops Moving)?
You shouldn’t panic if you’re not feeling regular movements before the 25th week especially in your first pregnancy.
By the 28th week of pregnancy however your baby should have regular movements and you will probably start to get into a pattern in terms of when you feel them.
It’s advised to monitor your baby’s movements in the last trimester of pregnancy to ensure that the baby is healthy and well. This is a far better method of telling whether your baby is healthy than using a home fetal doppler.
Become aware of your baby’s regular movements so you can tell if there is any decrease. You can do this by sitting quietly for an hour and counting the kicks. See if you can count 5-10.
Be aware of how long it takes your baby to make ten movements. The norm is for ten movements within a period of two hours.
If you notice that isn’t happening, or things are slowing down, call your midwife or doctor for advice. If it’s out of hours, go to the ER.
Many hospitals have a fetal monitoring unit where your baby’s movements and heart rate can be monitored over a period of time to make sure things are all ok.
It’s always best to be on the safe side and be checked over if you notice reduced movements.
What Movement Milestones Does a Baby Have?
As your baby grows, they will start to move more and more. Let’s take a quick look at what your baby’s movements might feel like at each point during your pregnancy.
- Prior to week 18 – You might feel little flutters or it might be gas. Who knows? But at this point, you probably won’t be sure if it’s the baby or something else.
- Weeks 18-25 – Sometime during this period you’ll feel movements which feel like butterflies and flutters. You may also notice a rhythmic movement which is when your baby has the hiccups.
- Week 25 onwards – Get ready for the kicks at this point. Some might feel quite brutal.
- Week 36 – Don’t be surprised if your baby starts to move around a little less at this point. The reason is that your baby is becoming bigger and there isn’t a lot of room in there. Changes to her movement levels shouldn’t be huge, so do keep an eye on things and let someone know if you’re concerned. Movement may be less but it will still be consistent.
Remember these are just guidelines and every baby is different. When you feel movements could be a lot sooner or later than other moms do.