Feeling the first kick is an exciting time for expectant parents to be, and you can be certain that you won’t forget it in a hurry.
The official name for a baby kicking is called ‘quickening,’ and many describe the first flutters as a magical moment in their journey to parenthood.
Waiting to feel those movements can be a test of patience but when they arrive, mums-to-be will be feeling them throughout the rest of their pregnancy.
Here’s what you need to know about fetal movement…
How early can you feel your baby move?
Was it a kick or just some trapped air? While it can be difficult to know in the early days, the NHS states that feeling your baby’s first movements happens approximately anytime between the 16 and 20-week mark of pregnancy.
While some curious mums-to-be may wonder if they can feel their little one move as early as 10 weeks, this is unfortunately too early. More than likely, at 10 weeks into your pregnancy, any feelings in the stomach are down to intestine movement, gas or feeling full after eating.
At 15 weeks, a baby can hear muted sounds from the outside world, as well as the sound of a mother’s heartbeat and digestive system.
After morning sickness beings to tail off for most women in the second trimester (at last!) at 16 weeks you can begin to feel movement.
These movements can vary from baby to baby. Some can feel like a light swish, a gentle roll, flutterings or a more obvious kick or jerk. Some mothers can even see one side of their stomach stick out or move suddenly and you may notice at different times of day and night there is more movement.
How often should you feel your baby move?
There is no set rule on how often you should feel your baby move and it is important to remember that every baby is different.
In the beginning, you won’t feel your baby move much at all and it can feel like an occasional swish or roll.
After a while they begin to move more, some more in the daytime, others can be felt at night.
Some babies are ‘kickers,’ meaning they frequently kick or jerk out with their arms or legs, while others just move slowly in a flutter motion.
It’s important you get to know your baby’s movements and while the NHS states you do not need to count the kicks, they do advise you to be familiar with them. After you first feel your baby kick, you will feel them move right up until birth many times throughout the day and night.
You should always be able to feel frequent movement and if you notice any sudden changes in their movements it is important to seek medical advice immediately. If the movements have become less than normal, then a doctor can check your baby’s heartbeat and make sure they are well or see if there is anything they need to look further at.
An anterior placenta is another reason why you may find it difficult to feel your baby move initially.
An anterior placenta means your placenta is attached to the front wall of your uterus and is a normal place for it to develop. It isn’t a cause for worry, and doesn’t affect labour or delivery. It isn’t related to a low-lying placenta either, which is when the placenta is lower than usual in the uterus.
You may have lower back pain if you have an anterior placenta and the cushioning may make it a little harder to feel your baby’s movements but you will still be able to feel them move and kick at regular times.
When can your partner feel your baby move?
As soon as you feel those first flutters at around 16 weeks you may be eager to share them with loved ones. But those first few movements will only be felt by you, and others will not experience them quite yet.
As you get to 18 weeks your baby will become more aware of sounds around them and can even react to music and noise.
As early as 20 weeks, others can feel your baby move by placing a hand on your stomach and at this stage, babies can get to know your partners or family’s voices.
Talking to your baby belly has many benefits. It can be a positive bonding time for the partners, family, and friends and gets your baby used to familiar voices. This can also produce more movement in babies after they begin to get to know their parents’ voices.
How to get your baby to move?
Sometimes, particularly for scans, doctors or nurses may suggest a glass of orange juice or a snack which can wake the baby up and encourage movement. Eating or drinking releases blood sugars which in turn can surge the blood for more physical activity.
Mums-to-be can try music, some light dancing, talking to the baby and even lying down can help to boost baby’s movement.