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Quickening – Feeling Your Baby Move in Pregnancy

by DP Nguyen

in Pregnancy, Pregnancy Health

Feeling Baby Move When You're PregnantOne of the most exciting aspects of pregnancy is feeling your baby’s little kicks and flutters for the first time. Feeling your baby’s movements in utero gives you reassurance that he or she is developing, and it makes you feel closer and more connected to the baby growing inside you. Fetal movements (or feeling your baby move for the first time) is called quickening in pregnancy.

When Will You Feel Your Baby Move?

Though you didn’t feel your baby’s acrobats in the first trimester, he or she has been moving in the womb since 7 or 8 weeks of pregnancy. In the first trimester, your baby was too small and his or her fetal movements were too subtle for you to be aware of.

For most women, they won’t feel the baby’s first movements until the second trimester – sometime between 16 and 22 weeks pregnant. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel your baby’s subtle fetal movements (called quickening in pregnancy) until 22 weeks pregnant.

Women who have been pregnant before tend to feel their baby’s movements earlier than first-time moms. It’s possible that second-time moms are more able to distinguish their baby’s flutters from other belly rumblings – such as gas and hunger pains.

Overweight Women Feel Baby’s Kicks Later

Your body shape may also play a role in when you’ll feel quickening in pregnancy — i.e. your baby’s first movements. Skinner women can usually feel their baby’s kicks and somersaults earlier and more frequently than overweight or obese women. If you’re overweight or obese, you may not feel the first fetal movements until later in the second trimester.

Quickening & The Position of the Placenta

The position of your placenta can also affect when you’ll feel quickening in pregnancy. For example, if you have an anterior placenta – your placenta is located on the front wall of your uterus – this will cushion your baby’s movements, and you may feel your baby’s movements slightly later.

Don’t worry if you haven’t felt your baby move for the first time yet. As your belly gets larger, you will soon get to feel these fetal movements.

What Does Quickening (Baby’s First Movements) Feel Like?

Quickening in pregnancy is a different sensation for everyone. The sensation of your baby’s movements may be similar to butterflies fluttering in your stomach, fish swimming around, popcorn popping, or a tumbling motion.

At first, you may confuse your baby’s gentle kicks with hunger pains and gas. As your second trimester progresses, you will feel your baby’s movements more frequently, and it will be easier to recognize the difference between quickening and other belly rumblings. (By the third trimester, your baby’s kicks, jabs, and elbows will be very distinct.)

How Often Should You Feel the Baby Move?

Try not to worry about how often your baby moves. It differs from baby to baby. Every baby has his own level of normal fetal activity.

At first, the fetal movements that you experience will be sporadic. You might feel several gentle taps or flutters one day, and one the next. Although your unborn baby continues to move around in your womb, his movements may not be strong enough for you to feel. By the end of the second trimester, his or her kicks should be quite strong.

In the third trimester, you’ll be able to distinguish a regular sleep-wake pattern. You may find that your baby is most active and awake during the nighttime hours, when you’re trying to fall asleep, and he or she may little movements during the daytime. (Did you know that babies dream? They do experience REM sleep, just like you!)

After you’ve felt your baby kick and move for a while, you should be able to pick up the regularity of his movements. If you suddenly feel that there is a decrease of any kind in his or her fetal movements, contact your doctor right away. This can be a sign of a serious problem. If there is no decrease in your baby’s normal kicks and movements, then you shouldn’t worry. He or she is just fine!

When To Keep Track of Baby’s Kicks

Once your baby starts to move regularly – this usually occurs by pregnancy week 28 – you may consider keeping track of your baby’s movements on a daily basis. There are a variety of methods of doing “kick counts,” so you’ll want to ask your doctor or healthcare provider for his or her recommendations.

You can buy a baby kick recorder, or you can count your baby’s kicks yourself. To count your baby’s kicks, you should pick a time of day that your baby is most active. Use a watch and time how long it takes for you to feel ten distinct fetal movements. If you don’t feel ten movements within two hours, call your doctor right away.

When Should You Worry about Fetal Movements

You will  want to contact your healthcare provider if you’ve noticed that your baby’s movements have slowed down significantly. For example, if your baby was quite active, but then he suddenly stops kicking. This may be a sign of a problem. Your doctor can perform a non-stress test, which will check your baby’s heart rate and movements.

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DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick's Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

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