Feeling your baby squirm and wriggle around inside you is one of the most exciting and joyous aspects of pregnancy. It is also another sign of a healthy pregnancy and gives you a way to connect to your little one as you get to know when they are most active and when they are more likely to be still.
When Will I Feel My Baby’s Movement?
You will start to notice your baby’s movements sometime during the second trimester, usually between 16 and 24 weeks. At first, it is easy to mistake those first flutters as wind or muscle twitches, as they feel very similar. Indeed, women having their second or subsequent pregnancy tend to feel movements earlier as they are better able to recognise the telltale signs. Every pregnancy is different, so try not to panic if it takes you a while to feel your baby’s movements, but if you haven’t felt anything by the time of your 24 week midwife appointment then you need to discuss it with your midwife.
As your baby grows, his or her movements will become more distinguished. You will start to notice the difference between a sharp kick to the ribs (this can be surprisingly painful!) and a gentle sweeping motion of an arm. Your baby’s movements will start to be visible from your stomach, and indeed other people may notice your stomach twitching during particularly active moments! However, despite the sharing of images on social media that seem to suggest otherwise, it is very unlikely that you will see the outline of a foot appear on your stomach, though you may notice a particularly hard lump at times where a head or bottom is making an appearance.
What Is Normal Foetal Movement?
It used to be the case that women were advised to monitor their baby’s movements and check for a set amount of movements per hour. However, as every baby is different then this can cause unnecessary panic and is no longer recommended. Instead, it’s a good idea to monitor your baby and try to establish what is normal. Your baby will have rest periods when they are asleep and you won’t feel any movements.
Again, the length of these rest periods varies from baby to baby but in general will not be longer than 90-minutes. You may also find that your baby is more active at certain times of the day, often in the evening thanks to changes in your own blood sugar. Whilst this is reassuring and delightful, it can also be quite frustrating to feel your baby start to do an internal dance just as you are trying to settle down to sleep!
Towards the end of the second trimester or during the third trimester, you may also notice times where your baby’s movements become quite rhythmic. Your baby will experience hiccups during pregnancy and this is a healthy sign that his or her lungs, etc. are developing well. You will feel a rhythmic twitching, usually in one area of your abdomen depending on where the baby lies.
My Baby Has Stopped Kicking / Is Moving Less – What Should I Do?
If you are concerned about your baby’s movements stopping or slowing down significantly, then try not to panic. You are less likely to notice your baby’s movements when you are being particularly active or distracted, for example when you are at work. Find somewhere quiet to sit down for several minutes to see if you notice any movements. If you don’t feel anything, you can try drinking a very cold drink or creating a loud noise such as a door slamming to see if your baby reacts.
If you are concerned because you haven’t felt any movements even after trying the above, or you think your baby is moving less than normal, then you need to seek help as soon as possible. Your midwife may arrange for you to have a scan or other tests if required. Whilst it is not necessarily a cause for concern, a lack of, or reduction in movement, may be an indication that your baby has become unwell. Even if it turns out that all is well, your midwifery team would much rather you contacted them to seek reassurance instead of worrying about it by yourself.