In the early days of pregnancy, it can be hard to believe that you’re actually carrying a baby. You may be sick, tired, or have other classic pregnancy symptoms. But feeling those first baby flutters makes it all much more real.
Here’s what you can expect from your baby’s first movements, when you might want to start counting kicks, and some questions to ask your doctor.
Baby flutters during early pregnancy
You’ll likely start to feel your baby moving around sometime between weeks 18 and 20 of your pregnancy. First-time moms may not feel baby move until closer to 25 weeks. Seasoned moms may feel movement as early as 13 weeks.
If you’re feeling anything fluttering down in your tummy around this time, it’s possible that your baby is grooving around in there. Baby’s kicks are also called quickening. It may be difficult to tell at first if what you’re feeling is your baby or gas. Over time, though, you should start to notice a pattern, especially during those times in the day when you’re quiet or at rest.
Not feeling anything yet? Try not to worry. It’s important to remember that all women and all pregnancies are different. If you aren’t feeling baby’s kicks, you will likely feel them soon.
What does it feel like?
Some women describe the first movements as bubbling or tickling. Others say it’s more like pressure or vibration. Here’s how women describe those precious first movements on the popular pregnancy forum Netmums.
Fetal growth patterns
You may find your baby’s first flutters cute. They’re also very important. Movement is a sign that your baby is growing and developing. They are doing things like flexing and stretching their limbs. They’re punching and rolling. Once your baby is born, you’ll see that your little one has fine-tuned these moves after many months of practice.
You may even find that as the weeks roll on that your baby moves in response to noises or your emotions. Sometimes baby will move if they’re uncomfortable in a certain position. They may also shimmy around if you eat certain foods or drink cold liquids.
Your baby will have quiet times when they are sleeping. You might notice a pattern that your baby sleeps more during the day when you’re active, and moves around more at night when you’re still.
In the early days, you may not feel your baby moving consistently. You may even confuse baby kicks with gas or other tummy rumblings. Toward the end of your pregnancy, though, you should be able to feel plenty of kicks and rolls. Many women start what is called “kick counting” at this time (around 28 weeks) to help keep track of baby’s health.
Kick counting may help prevent stillbirth by helping you tune in to what baby is up to in the womb. Counting the kicks is easy: Just set aside some time to sit quietly and keep track of any kicks, jabs, rolls, or other movements. It’s best to try and count kicks at the same time each day. You can do this on a piece of paper or even download an app like Count the Kicks!
Having trouble? Some moms find that their babies are more active between the hours of 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Others feel they get more dancing if they’ve just eaten a meal, had a cold glass of water, or finished some type of exercise.
Whatever the case, you should aim to track 10 movements within two hours. If you don’t, consider drinking a cold glass of water or eating something. Then try counting again.
When to call your doctor
Don’t fret if you don’t normally feel lots of kicks. Some babies are less active than others. Other times, your placental position may muffle or “cushion” the sensation.
Here are some questions to ask your doctor at your next appointment:
- Should I count my baby’s movements?
- If so, at what point in pregnancy should I begin counting?
- When should I call you if I feel baby isn’t moving enough?
- Do I have an anterior placenta or other reason baby’s kicks might be harder to feel?
Call your doctor if you notice a sudden decrease in movement or if you have other concerns. Regardless, it’s good idea to call if you don’t feel at least 10 movements in the span of two hours.
Feeling flutters in your belly is a great sign that your baby is growing and developing. Be sure to take note of whenever you feel those first kicks for your memory book. Before you know it, you’ll be seeing those adorable little kicks on the outside.