Among one of the more common questions every pregnant mother asks and wants to know from the moment she receives a big fat positive on her pregnancy test is: When will I feel baby movements during pregnancy?
For indeed, fetal movement is an exciting milestone worth documenting and looking forward to. In addition to it letting you know that your baby is thriving and alive and in relatively good health, observing baby movements during pregnancy and counting kicks is an important practise that has been linked to lowered risks of experiencing a devastating stillbirth.
While every baby is different with some being more active than others and patterns varying from pregnancy to pregnancy, we at theAsianparent have compiled a list of what to expect based on each trimester of your pregnancy, in order to help you decode your baby’s movements and give you a sneak preview of what you will experience in the months ahead.
A baby’s kicks are an important and endearing milestone in your pregnancy. Photo: iStock
Baby movements during pregnancy: First trimester
When Will I Feel My Baby Kicking?
Although your baby will start to move as early as 12 weeks, you will probably not feel anything because the foetus is still so small and it is still very early on in the pregnancy to feel any movement. In addition, your baby is also burrowed comfortably deep within the protective cushioning of your womb, and any movement will not make it to the surface through all the protective uterine layers.
When it is time to experience them, however, many pregnant women describe their baby’s first movements as the sensation of feeling butterflies in their tummies. Early movements may also feel like a nervous twitching or swishing sensation, or a rolling or tumbling sensation, in your belly. For a first-time mum it may be especially difficult to tell if it was your baby’s first movements that you just felt. Mums who have been pregnant before will be more adept at identifying those first movements, and not confuse them with gas or even hunger pangs!
As you progress into your second and third trimesters, and your skin is stretched tighter over your womb, you should feel more distinct movements and will experience a full range of activity including kicks, jabbing, and even elbowing, with the movements sometimes being powerful enough to hurt!
While your baby will have active and sleeping phases, in the coming months ahead you will soon find that your baby is more active in these instances:
- When you turn in for a nap – this is usually because you are more aware of your baby’s movements and more in tune with them when you are relaxed.
- When you are in a quiet position, either sitting or lying down.
- After you have had something to eat – the spike in your blood sugar may give your baby a rush of energy.
- When you are nervous and excited about something – adrenaline surges have the same effect as blood sugar spikes.
- Babies are also responsive to sounds or touch, and may even kick in response to a hand stroking your tummy, or gentle nudging motions.
While your baby has begun to move in the first trimester, you will not be able to feel it yet. Photo: iStock
Baby movements during pregnancy: Second trimester
Your baby’s first movements known as “quickening,” will usually be experienced between weeks 16 and 25 of your pregnancy, during your second trimester. This varies widely among pregnant mums. Some second-time mums feel those little flutters of life as early as 16 weeks, while some first-time mums may not feel movement until closer to the 24-week mark. However, if you do not feel any movement even after your 24th week of pregnancy, take it up with your doctor who will perform some tests including an ultrasound scan and measurement of your belly, to check if your baby is developing on schedule.
Many factors affect experiencing those first kicks, including the position of the placenta; if it is positioned facing front, called an anterior placenta, it can buffer movements and make it longer for you to feel those first kicks.
However, once you regularly feel your baby’s movements, which are around weeks 20 to 24, you will start to notice them more often. It will go from feeling a few flutters every now and then, to experiencing stronger, more purposeful, and more frequent kicks towards the end of your second trimester.
By the end of your second trimester, you would generally begin to be more aware of your baby’s movements as they become more defined. At this point in your pregnancy, your baby is big enough with gradually developing motor skills, and there is still space in your womb to perform wild acrobatic stunts, despite not being able to always feel them!
Baby movements during pregnancy: Third trimester
Your baby will be kicking up a fully-blown storm in your belly now, and you will feel each bunched up fist, scraping elbow and rounded knee. You will even feel faint but rhythmic tics within your belly, indicating that your baby has a case of the hiccups! This is normal and does not cause your baby discomfort.
By now, your baby is moving often, with well-defined patterns of activity. Doctors often advise that you count your baby’s kicks and/or be very aware of your baby’s movement pattern during the third trimester. This will help you know straight away if something is not normal in your little one’s movements.
Contrary to popular belief, babies do not kick less in the third trimester. While it is starting to get cramped up in your womb for your baby, you will experience a different range of motion as opposed to reduced movement, with many pregnant mums reporting more forceful rolling, squirming and pressing movements. You should still feel movements consistent with patterns you have been recording so far when counting your baby’s kicks. According to studies conducted on baby movements during pregnancy, reports show that by the third trimester a foetus moves about 30 times an hour, on average. In fact, a healthy baby will keep moving even when you are in labour. Decreased fetal movement warrants further evaluation by your healthcare provider, and should always be taken seriously.
Your baby’s movements are well-established and will even be felt by your partner and other siblings in the third trimester of your pregnancy. Photo: iStock
At this point in your pregnancy, you may even be able to interact with your baby! Try giving a protruding limb a gentle push and if you’re lucky you may be able to feel the little limb retract and push back on your palm!
If your baby’s movements start getting a little too much for you to take, however, try changing your positions – sit down if you’re standing, or lie down on your side. Your baby will take cues from you and will likely change positions too. You may also try giving your baby a gentle nudge, and carry out a set of pelvic tilts.
Before delivery (usually two to three weeks before delivery for first-time mums, and closer to the date of delivery for women who have had previous pregnancies), your baby will engage and drop head-first down into your pelvis. This will signal another change in range of motion in activity patterns, and you will experience every turn of your baby’s head that may feel a little like sharp electric twinges close to your cervix.
While pregnancy is oftentimes stressful and filled with conditions such as morning sickness that somehow extends well into the rest of the day, sleeping troubles, eating troubles and difficulty with just about any other activity that you previously took for granted, your baby’s kicks will be hopefully be something to look forward to and cherish through the trials of being pregnant.