Once you figure out that it’s not just gas, one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy is feeling all those baby kicks. While they can help you feel connected to your baby, as they get stronger if they land in the wrong place the feeling can be less than pleasant. (Hello, bladder!)
On the other hand, if you’re not feeling that many baby kicks, you may become worried about your baby. Is something wrong with them?
As a parent-to-be, the list of questions about baby kicks running through your mind can be endless: What’s normal when it comes to baby kicks? Where should you be feeling your baby kick? How often should your baby be kicking? When should you be worried?
Don’t stress though, we’re here with the answers you need.
Where you’ll feel baby kicks is dependent on a few factors. These include:
- how far along you are in your pregnancy
- the baby’s position in the womb
- the position of the placenta
You’ll feel your baby kick differently as your pregnancy progresses, with fluttery movements below the belly button earlier in pregnancy and stronger movement that can range from up in your ribs to down in your pelvic region later in pregnancy.
Your baby may make sporadic movements around 9 or 10 weeks, but you probably won’t feel anything in the first trimester. (If your baby happens to be moving around during an early ultrasound, the tech might mention it to you, but otherwise you may never know!)
By the second trimester, your baby’s movements will become more organized. Some pregnant people can feel their baby kick as early as 13 to 15 weeks into the pregnancy, but closer to 18 weeks is more typical.
Don’t be alarmed if it takes you a bit to feel those first fluttery kicks, known as quickening. Many factors can influence when you first feel them, and kicks are usually felt earlier in subsequent pregnancies, since experienced parents know what to look for.
The person carrying the baby will feel the kicks first, but partners (or others you allow) may feel the baby kicking as early as 20 weeks. Interestingly, pregnant people carrying twins are not likely to feel kicks any sooner than those carrying singletons.
Early movements are typically felt low in the abdomen and
Sometimes, it can seem like your baby’s movement is little ticks or pulses. This likely means that they have started hiccupping, which is completely harmless.
By the third trimester when your baby is more cramped and better developed, the movements will likely be stronger and pack more of a punch. You may even notice your belly moving on the outside when your baby kicks!
Your baby’s position in the womb affects how and where you’ll feel kicks. If they’re head down (known as vertex position) then you’ll feel their kicks higher up in your womb. Early in pregnancy this may only be as high as your belly button, but later in pregnancy it may be up in your ribs.
If they’re breech, with their feet dangling down, you’ll feel kicks lower in your abdomen and it may even feel like they’re kicking their way out of your cervix or dancing on your bladder later in pregnancy.
If they’re transverse, laying across your abdomen, you’ll likely feel more kicks on the right or left side, depending on which way they’re facing.
You’ll also feel movements besides kicks — you may feel pressure from the baby’s head or back pressed against your belly. You may be able to feel a swooping sensation when they turn or roll in the womb.
The timing and strength of the movements that you feel may be affected by the placement of the placenta.
If the placenta is positioned on the front of the uterus (known as an anterior placenta) it may act as a cushion between the outside of your belly and the baby’s movements inside. You may not feel movement until later during your pregnancy and when you do feel movement it may not be as strong.
Frequency of baby kicks and movement will change at different stages of your pregnancy.
Just because you can begin to feel the kicks in the second trimester, doesn’t mean you should expect to feel them all day long or even every day. Your baby is still small, so there’s more room for them to flip and roll without you feeling it!
As your baby becomes larger, you may notice rhythms to their movement. They may tend to be more active in the morning or evening depending on their sleep cycle.
In fact, your daytime movement may lull your baby to sleep, so it’s not unusual for them to decide to start kicking when you lie down to get ready to go to bed.
In the later months of your pregnancy, your doctor may suggest counting the number of baby kicks you feel as a way to check in on your baby’s health.
While some doctors suggest just a general awareness of changes to fetal movement,
If you’re trying to do a formal kick count, some good rules of thumb are:
- Do kick counts at the same time of day.
- Make sure to note the frequency and type of movement.
- Count at a time of day when your baby is frequently active and your distractions are at a minimum (e.g., early evening).
If you’re not feeling much movement and trying to encourage some from your baby, you can try:
- Talking or playing music. By about 25 weeks, your baby may begin to respond to familiar voices with a kick or two.
- Eating or drinking something. The sugar from a little orange juice may get your baby moving again!
If you’re not feeling a lot of movement, it can be comforting to remember that a lack of movement doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem. Your baby may just be enjoying a nice long nap or be in a position where it’s hard to feel them.
If movement becomes noticeably less or completely absent, you’ll probably want to reach out to your medical provider.
As a general rule of thumb, you should call your doctor if you don’t feel 10 movements in a 2- to 3-hour window during the third trimester, but you can always call them and request monitoring if you feel something is off.
Every pregnancy and baby is different. The amount of kicks you feel and how they feel will differ not only from person to person, but from pregnancy to pregnancy. You may have one baby you rarely felt moving and another who loved to constantly push the boundaries of the womb (literally!).
It’s important to be aware of the amount of kicking you are feeling, especially later in your pregnancy. If you are feeling a marked decrease or movements stop all together, you’ll probably want to reach out to your medical provider, so they can monitor and assess the baby’s health.
While it’s different for everyone, feeling kicks and movements are a special way to feel connected with your baby.