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Quickening – Feeling Your Baby Move in Pregnancy

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.

You May Also Enjoy Reading…

Pregnancy Tea: Should You Drink Tea When Pregnant?
Kegel Exercises 101: A Guide for Pregnant Women
Spotting in Pregnancy: Should You Worry?
Fish in Pregnancy: What’s Safe and What’s Not

About the author: 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.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Amber Hutto January 10, 2019, 1:02 pm

    I’m in the same boat. We r about the same size and I’m 7 almost 8 weeks along. It worried me for a while. This is my second baby but it’s been 6 years since I was pregnant and now I’m learning all over again.

  • Fate-B May 22, 2018, 1:28 am

    Idk y it has to do with weight
    Ive been a big person since my teens and im in my late 20’s. 230-250 my weight goes up and down through out the years. And i still felt flutters in early pregnancies. My 1st, not really my 2nd. Im in my 3rd pregnancy and im 8wks i feel them flutters soo excited!

  • destiny November 24, 2017, 6:45 pm

    Each pregnancy is different. Doctors dont know everything ,,,they only know what is told to them about what the women feel. I have felt my babies move at 12 weeks and I am over 200 pounds and have 4 kids. Each situation is different.

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  • Heather B August 24, 2014, 10:37 pm

    I love baby development, what to expect, week-by-week information. It’s so great for bonding with developing baby. I’ve read week-by-week books, but I just came across a new book that’s really awesome called “The Wonder Within You” by Carey Wickersham. It’s an awesome combination of week-to-week pregnancy information, what’s going on with the baby, “Did you know?” plus health advice about what to eat, cravings, nutrition, etc, BUT also with awesome 3D/4D pictures and videos you can link or QR with your phone to and see what your baby looks like at each week stage. Even better than the typical week-to-week books, and so personal! It’s got mom stories and even a journal/note section to write your personal memories and letters to your baby. The pregnancy information is as up-to-date as it gets and it’s such a great keepsake. I want to get one for everybody I know who is expecting! Check it out…TheWonderWithinYou.com.

  • Sunshine04 October 27, 2012, 10:57 am

    There is no need to become offended ladies!!! I am a walking fact to back up that it isn’t at all a myth that heavier women feel their babies move a bit later than slim women. It isn’t a bad thing, so I don’t understand the need to be so defensive!
    As a very petite young woman, I had my first pregnancy at the tender age of 17. I felt my baby’s flutters by the end of my 2nd month. When I brought the info with my doc, her exact words were that due to me being slender, it was absolutely normal! Those were her true words that came out of her mouth!
    That was nearly 10 years ago when that had taken place, and while now being pregnant with my 4th child currently, I am no longer petite at all, and didn’t feel my baby in this pregnancy until I was exactly 16 weeks and 2 days pregnant!!!
    I am a walking example and fact, that all body types DO depend on how early you feel your little ones kicking. There is absolutely nothing to get upset about regarding this matter, it is indeed true, not a myth! I been pregnant both being skinny and slightly overweight:)

  • Educatedmami July 28, 2012, 7:00 am

    Why are you all getting upset with this young lady? almost every pregnancy website says this about body types, and medical books do too..so before you tell her to get get facts straight, make sure that you go ahead and attack every obstetrician book printer, every pregnancy.website, every pregnancy magazine, and everybody who has ever printed something on fetal kicks.

  • auriel July 7, 2012, 5:10 pm

    Im 229. I started my pregnancy at 200. Been feeling my baby move since march! Bigger people can so feel it move… >:(

  • amelia January 21, 2012, 10:44 am

    This is my first baby and I’m about 110kg and felt my baby at 13 and a half weeks so fat woman still can feel the baby just as early as a slim woman. Get your facts right!

  • JL December 13, 2011, 10:26 am

    It has been proven to be a myth that heavier women feel kicks later than thin women. There is no fat in the uterus, so that statement doesn’t even make sense. This is nothing but prejudice and ignorance.

  • Wendy R. January 15, 2011, 6:19 am

    It’s been nearly 15 years for me since I felt this but I remember it so clearly! Thanks for stopping by my blog and I am now following you back. 🙂

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