You’re feeling those little kicks, or perhaps they’re still flutters, and you may have heard other mums-to-be talking about how many movements they’re having. But don’t worry if your baby is quiet while their babies are doing acrobatics – or if yours is a wriggler.
“Each baby will develop their own individual pattern and some are just more active than others,” says midwife Nikki Khan. “There’s no ‘correct’ frequency, as it’s different for every woman. But your baby will develop a ‘routine’ and it’s good to get to know what’s normal for your baby.”
I’ve heard that I should count 10 kicks per day – is that correct?
No, this is an old procedure, often known as ‘Count to 10′, that pregnant women used to be asked to do. Because babies’ movements are so different, this has been discontinued.
Indeed some babies may move 4 times an hour, while others may move 100 times an hour – but you won’t feel all of these and that doesn’t mean every hour. It’s also hard to compare what pregnant women call a baby movement – these could really vary depending person to person.
“Mums-to-be used to be asked to keep a record of their baby’s movements, but it can be more worrying than reassuring, so we no longer do this,’ confirms midwife Nikki.
So, it’s now about keeping an eye on your baby’s regular movements. You need to stay aware of how active your baby is, and know and follow your baby’s kicking habits.
Baby kick watch – week by week
OK, so we know that every baby is different, but there are kicking patterns to watch out for during your second and third trimester. For example, you’ll probably notice that your baby’s movements will increase until 32 weeks, when they will pretty much keep to the same pattern until you give birth.
We asked midwife Anne Richley and pregnancy charity Count The Kicks to outline what to expect:
You won’t be able to feel anything yet, but your baby is regularly moving around from about 8 weeks of pregnancy. Your baby’s brain is sending messages to growing muscles, telling them to work, which in turn helps your baby to grow. Your baby is surrounded by cushioning amniotic fluid, acting as protection from any bumps and pressure. Being cocooned like that encourages your baby to keep shifting around without fear of getting hurt.
13 -15 weeks
Some pregnant women, especially if you’ve had a baby before, are able to feel slight movements at the very beginning of the 2nd trimester. However, this is very rare.
16 to 24 weeks
This is typically the first time you will feel that your baby is moving. You might only feel a little flutter – also known as quickening – as your baby is still tiny It can be so slight, you might put it down to gas or indigestion. Whenever it happens, it’s completely normal to then have a few days when you don’t feel anything at all.
24 to 28 weeks
This is when your baby’s pattern will start to take shape. Babies like to wake at the most inconvenient of times, it’s typical that you’ll find just when you start falling asleep, your baby starts to get lively.
If you’re busy working or looking after other children you may not be aware of your baby’s smaller actions.
If you feel regular, jerky movements right about now, that could all be down to your baby having hiccups. Hiccups can last for 30 minutes at a time and are completely normal and won’t harm your baby. They shouldn’t be counted as movements however. The same goes for if your baby jumps after they hear a loud sound.
If your baby’s pattern doesn’t become clear exactly at 24 weeks, don’t panic. As long as your baby is moving that’s fine. You might find your baby develops a more regular pattern closer to 28 weeks.
On our MFM forum, Angela00 says, ” I remember reading other people saying they were noticing a pattern at 24 weeks. I couldn’t at all. My baby would be really quiet for anything up to a week and then It would kick me all day. I did get a little worried at one point because I didn’t feel anything for over 24 hours. Then it started to make my belly move with the force of the kicks!
“Since 28 weeks, it’s been much more regular. Not so much a pattern but I feel my baby most evenings. The movements change. Now it’s less kicks but more general movement. I can see bits of my belly expand when my baby moves!”
Another MFMer, Writer 73, started to understand her baby’s routine at around 26 weeks. “I have a very active little boy in there but it took me a while to get into his pattern of moving and sleeping. If he has a very active day like yesterday, he will be quieter today.
At 28 weeks you should be able to feel about 10 movements in a 12-hour period – but some of those may come very close together. Remember, don’t worry if your baby is quieter – just start familiarising yourself with what your baby likes to do.
29 – 31 weeks
This is what your partner may have been waiting for – the grand reveal! Around this time you may be able to see your baby’s movements from the outside – the odd elbow or foot jutting out slightly from your belly.
One of the best places to spot your baby moving is in the bath. You should avoid hot baths when you’re pregnant, but warm baths can be relaxing and soothing on achy limbs. Find out how to run the right temperature for your bath.
Your baby will become really active now – in fact your womb’s a bit like a playground. He’ll change position constantly, stretching his arms and somersaulting, so most midwives won’t even comment on your baby’s position until 36 weeks.
This active phase will continue up until birth. There will still be a pattern to it but it will be a consistent pattern. If you notice a reduction in your baby moving, talk to your doctor or midwife.
After those weeks of tumbling and pushing around, most babies will start to head down from 36 weeks ready for the birth. As your baby gets into head-down position, you may feel gentle jabs from their arms and legs.
Some of you, particularly if you’ve had several babies before, will find your baby’s in what’s known as an ‘unstable lie’, where your baby flits between head down (cephalic), sideways (transverse) or bottom first (breech). Your baby can do this several times a day, although this is extremely rare with a first baby.
As long as he’s head down, don’t worry if he’s laying with his front to your back (anterior) or back to your back (posterior) at this stage. Babies will usually find their way out. Imagine carrying a table through a door – you’d turn it and wiggle it until it fitted. Babies can usually do the same to find their way into your arms!
36 to 40 weeks
Your baby won’t be able to move so much now and you’re likely to feel a more persistent kick underneath the ribs. The movements might have changed but the frequency should remain the same. If you notice any change speak to your midwife.
It’s not true that your baby moves less in very late pregnancy, which is why there was an outcry when Coronation Street’s Craig got it wrong – telling pregnant teenager Faye Windass that she’ll feel her baby move about less in the last few weeks. Mums and experts criticised the TV soap for giving ‘misleading’ pregnancy advice.
When will I see my bump move and my baby kick?
A few weeks after feeling your baby kick, you may also see your belly move. As your bump gets bigger, you may be able to see little lumps and bumps – a mini elbow or foot poking out. But it won’t look like the picture below – that’s a fake!
Again, when this happens can vary enormously. Many of our MFMers were able to see movement from around 24 weeks, others much later.
Tamarabell says, “I’m 28.3 weeks today and I see my belly moving from the corner of my eye when I am working – must look funny if anyone else notices.” Tashy1 also experienced big movements: “I’m 31 weeks and sometimes she moves from left to right. That really does look weird. I see my whole belly move sideways!”
Are there certain times of the day I should feel my baby move?
Babies can be active throughout the day and night but they won’t be continuously active so don’t be worried if your baby has a rest for while. Babies don’t always move, especially when they are sleeping.
Babies can sleep anything from 20 minutes to around 40 minutes, and sometimes they can even have a longer nap of anything up to 90 minutes.
You might also find that your baby’s very active at night and in the morning, but you don’t feel a huge amount during the course of the day. This is very normal as babies become very used to noise and your activity outside the womb and they often move more when you stop.
Think about how we walk around rocking a baby to sleep for comfort. It’s the same thing when your baby’s in your uterus. So when you sit down and rest, your baby might wake up as the rocking stops. According to our midwife, Anne Richley, some mums find that babies who were more active at night are lighter sleepers and those who moved in the day sleep more at night when they’re born.
“My midwife said babies are usually going to be most active when we are asleep so try not to panic. I usually find if I have a nice warm bath she becomes very active when I get out.” – Lambchop80
When will my partner be able to feel my baby kick?
Partners will often feel your baby a few weeks after you feel the first kicks. Again, every pregnancy is different. “I think it was around the 22-23 week mark when bub was really really active so that hubby could start feeling the kicks,” says MFMer Lucy_Spoon. She usually goes quiet if her daddy touches my belly (might be a good sign that he’s going to be some sort of baby whisperer). But now that I am 34 weeks, when I’m giving hubby a hug in bed she kicks his back ha ha!”
“I also felt movements and then kicks early on,” adds Madam Butterfly. “I am 21 wks now and at 19+5 we had put our Xmas tree up and the baby kicked. I managed to grab my husband’s hand and he felt it. Since then I have felt loads of kicks but I think they are too light as husband can’t feel them.”
What will make my baby move more?
You can probably second guess half of the things that will make a baby move before you even experience it, such as:
- hot, cold or fizzy drinks
- sugary food
“My baby has quiet days when I tend to get a bit worried, but I find that lying down makes him move as does drinking Coke!” says Rach-66695.
What will make my baby move less?
Some things that are likely to make your baby move less include:
- Taking painkillers
- Drinking alcohol
”Also, if you haven’t had much to eat or drink that day, your baby may become lethargic and move less,” says midwife Nikki Khan, “so have a light, nutritious snack and see if that helps.
“Sometimes, we’re so busy we’re simply not concentrating on our baby and miss regular movements that way. If you’re able to, take some quiet time to relax, and reconnect with your baby, focusing on feeling her move.
“A glass of ice-cold water will often get her moving – it’s thought that your baby can feel the change in temperature and will try to move away from it. If you’re at all worried, trust your instincts and call your midwife. She can have a listen and monitor you properly to put your mind at rest.”
The position of your placenta can also affect how you feel your baby move, as Rebecca S discovered. “I’m 25 weeks +5 and my babys movements have slowed down. My placenta is at the front and they said because of that it could be why I don’t feel my baby move around alot. I’ve been to the hospital as I was worried about her movements and they said her heartbeat is normal.”
When should I seek medical advice
“If you’re concerned that your baby’s moving less than previously, you should contact your midwife who’ll advise you to have your baby’s heartbeat monitored to check everything’s OK,” says midwife Anne Richley. “In most cases, your baby will be moving but you’re just not aware of it. Alternatively your baby might have altered positions, meaning you don’t feel pushes or turning in such a defined way.
“Towards the end of your pregnancy, your baby has less room in which to do huge kicks or shoves, but you should still feel the same amount of moving, even it’s slightly less strong, or feels different.
“Sometimes a significant reduction in movements can show that your baby is becoming unhappy in the womb, so it’s always important that you speak to a midwife who can arrange for you to be seen quickly.”