Fetal movement during pregnancy can be one of the most thrilling (and nerve-wracking) aspects of carrying a child. Most pregnant women will experience a fetal movement of some kind, whether it’s a light flutter or a strong kick. Before we move on to our article, let us tell you this. While the fetal movement is generally normal, it can sometimes be a sign of a problem. Talk to your doctor when you’re worried about your baby’s movements. They will be able to listen to your baby’s heart and assess how they are moving. If there is cause for concern, your doctor will likely order additional tests.
Every pregnant woman experiences fetal movement differently, and there is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. Movement is simply one way your baby communicates with you. So how do you interpret the kicks, punches, and hiccups? When is the fetal movement most likely to occur?
Fetal movement is most frequent during the third trimester. At this time, you will probably feel your baby moving between 10 and 20 times per day. Fetal movement typically increases as you near your due date.
How often should you feel your baby move?
The average woman will feel her baby move about 8-10 times a day in the second trimester and about 15-20 times a day in the third trimester. Each time your baby moves, you will probably feel a little flutter in your stomach or side. You may also get the sensation of your baby kicking.
In addition to feeling the baby move, there are some other signs that your baby is healthy and growing:
Baby Alert: A Mom’s Perspective
Your abdomen will start getting bigger as the uterus expands to make room for the growing fetus. The uterus grows from the small size of a pear to the size of a grapefruit by the end of the first month.
When the baby is around 5½ inches long and weighs about 6.5 ounces, they are getting ready to make their first movements, which may feel like flutters. Your uterus will have now grown big enough that you can feel the baby’s kicks—but they won’t be strong enough for you to notice them yet. You might have felt a little “flutter” when you were carrying the egg, but now the movements and kicks will start feeling more pronounced. The baby is, after all, continuing to grow at a rapid rate, doubling in size every week. Your uterus would have grown so large that it’s pressing against your diaphragm and restricting your breathing.
What You Look Like: You might have started showing already—you’ll know for sure when someone comments on it! If not, don’t worry—it will happen soon enough.
What You’re Feeling: Excited! Scared! Thrilled! Nauseous! Heartburn! Sleepy!
What You Look Like: Pregnant. That’s right; you look pregnant. Many people will comment on your “baby bump,” and some might even ask if you are expecting.
When can you feel your baby move?
You will notice find that your baby is more active under the following circumstances:
- Bed Time: When you’ve wrapped up your day and settled down for the night, you’ll likely notice that baby is more active. The movement of your own body can put her to sleep during the day, and you’re typically preoccupied with other things. You’ll be more likely to notice what the baby is up to if you’re relaxed and tuned in to your body.
- Post Munch: After you’ve had a bite to eat. Your baby may experience a burst of energy due to the spike in your blood sugar.
- Jitters and Shivers: When you’re feeling nervous and jittery. The production of adrenaline will have the same effect and provide a surge of energy for your child.
- Hiccupotamus: When your child develops a case of the hiccups. Have you ever noticed small flutters of subtle but rhythmic tics that linger anywhere from a minute to an hour? Your baby is most likely experiencing a harmless and very common episode of the hiccups. It’s very natural not to have them as well.
Kicks-Galore! What does it mean to carry around a super-active baby?
Your baby may be active and sharpening its tiny muscles before birth. If you are pregnant, try to take a deep breath and relax. It doesn’t mean that your child will grow up to be uncontrollably hyperactive or that their life is predetermined to be an Olympic level runner nor the next great wing three-quarter for the Wallabies. I mean, they could be, but that’s not the key takeaway.
Kicks should simply be seen as a healthy part of fetal development. They’re like an “exercise routine” and help strengthen all of those growing muscles and bones before the baby is born.
As your baby grows, their living area will become considerably smaller. That poor unborn baby, you might think, but hold on! You might not realize how strong babies are! They might be cramped and uncomfortable, but by the third trimester, they would still manage to kick up a storm! The average baby can kick with a generated force of around 11 pounds (around 49 Newtons) by the end of their 6th month. Kicks are an important part of fetal development, so be sure to share your kick counts with your doctor.
No matter what you’re experiencing, remember, this is just the third trimester. You’ve got it made! Just a few more weeks, and you’ll be holding your little one in your arms.
If your little one’s favourite pastime of going full Virgil Donati in your belly becomes too much for you to bear, try a different position. Sit or lie down on your side. Your baby will likely find this new position and continue with their playing. If a foot (or feet) starts to pester your ribs, take it as your cue to change positions and since you would most likely be suffering from uncomfortable feet in the last few weeks of pregnancy, try some pelvic tilts. A gentle nudge is sometimes all that’s needed to change positions.
Tracking Your Baby’s Kicks:
As a parent, it’s your duty to keep track of your baby’s movement. A baby will kick and punch less frequently in the morning and more often in the evening. So, set aside sometime twice a day to do kick counts. In the morning, count movements like kicks and punches. In the evening, count movements like kicks, flutters, or rolls. Keep an eye out for 10 movements of any kind within an hour. When you reach 10, stop counting and note the time. If it takes more than two hours to count to 10, that is a typical red flag for you to contact your doctor or midwife for evaluation.
Incoming! Going into Labour
Do you know those movements felt in your baby’s first 30 weeks? They’re about to change when you are about to go into labour. Typically, around two to three weeks before labour, your baby’s head drops down into the pelvis as they start to prepare themselves for their grand entrance. This preparation period will result in a change in their internal activity patterns.
When you’re about 32 weeks pregnant, your baby may start to move less. Don’t worry—this is normal for the last few weeks before delivery! Some activity patterns vary widely and can change from week to week. Some babies become less active in the last few weeks, but others manage to keep up an energetic pace until the big day.
Regardless of the position your baby takes in your womb; you should still feel your baby move every day. You will feel more movement before labour than you will right after birth, but even then, you should still feel a slight movement. If all movement ceases or there is a significant decrease of movement when you are close to delivery, consult your doctor immediately!
When can you expect decreased movement?
Sex: At the end of a long day, many pregnant women find themselves sleeping after sex. The rocking movements and uterine contractions that happen post-orgasm and the release of oxytocin and vasopressin often lead to a quick snooze for both mom and baby. However, some babies become more active after sex. Either way, these changes are expected – and should never be a sign that sex during pregnancy is unsafe unless explicitly advised!
Second Trimester: If you don’t feel movement during the second trimester, don’t panic. This is normal. It is common not to feel regular movement at this stage and with your baby still relatively tiny. It might be because they are in the fetal position or because you sleep right through the most active periods of the night.
Third Trimester: The third trimester is one of the most crucial stages for moms-to-be. Your baby has now established a fairly regular sleep and wake cycle. Count the number of fetal movements a few times a day and be sure to report any sudden decreases to your doctor. Any sudden decreases during this period should not be taken lightly.
If your baby is moving less than usual, you might feel worried. Don’t hesitate to give yourself a little reassurance: Have a quick snack and sit or lie down for about half an hour. If your baby responds to the food by moving 10 times or more, then it’s safe to assume that everything is fine. And if you don’t feel 10 movements, call your practitioner to make sure – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Feeling your baby move is one of the most exciting milestones of pregnancy.
And while lightening or Braxton-Hick’s contractions can be a little alarming at first, fetal movements are very real and a sign of the life growing inside of you. So, sit back, relax and enjoy! Just don’t forget to do those kick counts during the third trimester!