For most women, feeling their baby kicking for the first time is an exciting and wonderful experience. However, it can also raise many questions too: “Is my baby kicking enough?”, “is my baby kicking too much?” and “what should baby kicking feel like?” are just three of the questions that many pregnant women raise when entering their second trimester. Here, we take a look at what you should expect in terms of fetal movement and when you should speak to a doctor.
- When Should I First Feel my Baby Kicking?
- The Second Trimester – Baby Kicking Begins!
- What will my Baby Kicking Feel Like?
- What Time of Day is Best to Feel Baby Kicking?
- A Month by Month Guide to Feeling Your Baby Kicking
- Should I Count how Often my Baby is Kicking?
- My Baby is Kicking Less. Why?
- How do I Encourage my Baby Kicking?
- I Feel a Baby Kicking but I’m Not Pregnant!
When Should I First Feel my Baby Kicking?
From the very first days of pregnancy, right through to the end of the 12th week, your baby will be developing incredibly rapidly. In the first trimester, your baby turns from a cluster of cells into a fetus that resembles a tiny baby with vocal cords. However, despite this speedy development, you shouldn’t expect any fetal movements to be felt at this point. Your baby is still very small and is buried deep in the uterus’s protective cushion, so you won’t feel a thing in terms of kicking, although you may well experience plenty of nausea, exhaustion and breast pain that makes it evident to you that your little one is making his presence felt!
The Second Trimester – Baby Kicking Begins!
The second trimester is when you’ll begin to feel the first tell-tale movements from inside your uterus that let you know for certain that your baby is flexing his muscles. Most women will feel their baby kicking for the first time somewhere around 18 to 22 weeks, although this can vary a lot. Some women report feeling the quickening (as the first movements are commonly known as) as early as week 14, especially if this isn’t their first baby, while others feel nothing at all until week 26. The reason for these variations is often the placenta’s position. If it faces towards the front of your body – this is known as an anterior placenta – the movements can be muffled and therefore, you’ll need to wait a little longer before you feel kicking.
What will my Baby Kicking Feel Like?
It’s difficult to describe what the first baby kicks will feel like. Some women report that it feels similar to butterflies or waves, with a fluttering sensation inside their stomach. Others say it feels like nudging or twitching, while others say it’s similar to hunger pangs! It may even feel as if a bubble is bursting inside your abdomen, while others describe it as similar to if you were on a rollercoaster. However, whatever those early kicks feel like, they’re sure to make you feel elated and overjoyed.
Bear in mind, though, that all babies are individuals and unique. Their activity patterns and rhythms vary so you shouldn’t compare the movements of your baby with those of your older children or your friends’ babies. You also shouldn’t worry if you have an especially active baby – that doesn’t necessarily mean your child will turn out to be hyperactive!
What Time of Day is Best to Feel Baby Kicking?
In the day time, your movements are likely to lull your baby to sleep. Also, you’re usually busy focusing on other things while you’re around and about during the day so you may not notice those small baby movements. However, you’re more likely to find your baby becoming more active at night when you settle down to rest. When you feel relaxed, you’re more likely to become attuned to your own body and more aware of what your baby is doing. This is why so many women report that they struggle to sleep at night because their baby is kicking repeatedly.
If you eat, your baby often gets an energy rush due to the blood sugar surge and becomes more active. If you’re feeling nervous, adrenaline will give your baby an energy burst too and he will suddenly start kicking more.
A Month by Month Guide to Feeling Your Baby Kicking
As we’ve already pointed out, you won’t feel your baby moving inside you until the fourth month of pregnancy. However, after that point, you will soon begin to feel those early twitches and flutters that will turn into full-fledged kicks and somersaults. Here is a month by month guide to what you can expect to experience.
- Month 4 – some women, especially those who are very slim or who have had a baby before, will feel their baby moving at this stage of their pregnancy. In most cases, though, pregnant women don’t notice the twitches and flits at this stage. This is because they often feel more like muscle spasms or gas instead than kicks.
- Month 5 – during this month, most women will finally feel their baby moving for the very first time. Once you’ve felt the first movement, you’ll know what to expect and you’ll begin to notice those kicks more often. With every week that goes by, your baby’s movements will grow more acrobatic. Their kicks and bunches will become more powerful since their little muscles will be growing stronger and they’ll be developing more motor skills. At this stage, your baby is small enough to turn a complete somersault in the uterus. If you haven’t felt movements by around week 22, you may be given an ultrasound scan to check your due date; many women get the date wrong!
- Month 6 – once you reach your sixth month, you’ll notice your baby’s leg movements becoming more choreographed. Patterns will probably begin to emerge in their movements.
- Month 7 – once you enter the third trimester at 7 months into your pregnancy your baby will have less room to move. At the moment, though, they’ll still be small enough to turn upside down and they’ll be getting stronger each day, giving you kicks and punches which can jolt you. You may notice another type of movement by month 7. If you’re feeling rhythmic tics and faint, repetitive flutters, your baby could be suffering from hiccups. Don’t worry, it won’t harm your baby, but it could become a bit irritating!
- Month 8 – your baby is rapidly getting bigger and heavier so your uterus is becoming more cramped. You’ll notice a lot fewer somersaults now, but turning and wriggling will continue. You’ll also notice strong jabs from knees and elbows jutting out of your stomach now. If the movements are becoming too irritating, try to change positions occasionally. If you’re standing up, try sitting down or lying down and your baby will probably change positions. One of the nicest things at this stage is being able to interact with your little one. If you notice a foot or knee poking out of your stomach, try pressing it gently and you may notice the limb gets pulled back before being pushed back outwards again.
- Month 9 – now your baby has nearly reached his full length and weight and so is very cramped in your uterus. You won’t be able to feel any rapid-fire kicking any more, however, the bigger movements and lurches are sure to be noticed. You’ll probably also notice a lot of kicking on your cervix as well as your baby’s feet getting lodged in your ribs. If you move positions, do some pelvic tilts or give your baby a gentle nudge you’ll probably get some relief from the discomfort.
In the last couple of weeks before you go into labor your baby will usually drop down head-first into your pelvis. This is called “engaging”. This may happen earlier in your first pregnancy than in subsequent ones. When this happens, you’ll notice a change in your baby’s movements again. Every time your baby turns his head you’ll feel an electric-like twinge by your cervix, but on the upside, the feet won’t get stuck in your ribs anymore. At this stage, your baby may move less, but some babies will keep on moving frequently right up to the delivery. Even if the movements slow down, you should still feel some movements each day. If there is a noticeable lack of movement, call your doctor to put your mind at rest.
Should I Count how Often my Baby is Kicking?
Once you reach the 28th week of pregnancy, your doctor may ask you to start counting kicks or movements right through until your delivery. How do you do this?
You should take note of how frequently your baby kicks. You should set some quiet time aside a couple of times a day when you can count movements. One should be in the morning when the movements will usually be less frequent and one should be during the evening when babies are usually more active. Check the time before you start counting. You should count any type of movement, whether that be a kick, a roll or a flutter and stop once you get to 10 before noting the time. Ten movements within an hour are considered to be normal, but sometimes it might take longer.
If you don’t feel ten movements in an hour, you should eat something, drink some juice, lie back down then carry on counting. If it takes over two hours to get to ten movements, call your doctor. While a lack of activity won’t necessarily mean that there’s a problem, you can put your mind at rest by having some extra monitoring and evaluation.
Bear in mind that as you get closer to your due date it becomes more important than ever to check your fetal movements. By the ninth month, you should count movements a few times each day and if you detect a sudden drop in the number of movements you should contact your practitioner.
My Baby is Kicking Less. Why?
Being aware of your little one’s rolls, kicks and punches is a good idea all through your pregnancy, but be aware that there are certain times when changes may occur in your fetal movements and most of these are completely normal. They include:
- After sex – the rocking movements of sex followed by the rhythmic contractions of the uterus after orgasm lulls babies off to sleep in many cases Others will become a lot more active after you have sex. Both types of change are normal, so there’s no need to worry and no need to stop having sex unless your practitioner tells you to.
- During your second trimester, you may go for a few days between feeling kicks. Remember, your baby is still growing, so you won’t feel regular movements. Also, some movements might be missed due to the position of your baby. If he is facing inwards, for example, you won’t feel anything. Finally, your baby may be most active at night when you’re asleep.
- During your third trimester, your baby will have developed a regular sleeping and waking cycle and a gap between kicks probably means your baby is deeply asleep. Nevertheless, if the number of movements decreases significantly in your ninth month you should see your doctor for monitoring.
How do I Encourage my Baby Kicking?
If you’re concerned that your baby isn’t moving enough, you can try a few things to persuade them to kick.
- Try lying on your left side. Support your bump. You’ll feel your little one’s movements more in this position then if you were moving or standing.
- Try having a cold drink. When your baby feels the slight change in temperature he may kick.
- Make some noise. Play music or even talk to your baby and this may wake him up.
I Feel a Baby Kicking but I’m Not Pregnant!
If you’ve been pregnant before and know what a baby kicking feels like, you may sometimes think that you’re experiencing kicks even when you’re not pregnant. Phantom kicking happens surprisingly often. There are several reasons why you may experience this sensation that don’t involve pregnancy. You may have gas, or be experiencing muscle spasms. If you continue experiencing these sensations, you should visit your doctor. It’s possible that you could be pregnant but do not know about it. Rest assured, though, this is something that only happens very rarely.