Your baby’s movements in pregnancy

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The most anticipated event in your pregnancy is feeling your baby’s first movements. In fact, they may be quite difficult to feel at first, especially in first pregnancies. Some women describe is as butterflies or bubbles in your tummy and it’s called quickening. Most likely you’ll start feeling them between weeks 18 and 20, possibly a little earlier in second and subsequent pregnancies.

What can my baby do?

Gradually, as your pregnancy progresses, your baby is capable of more complicated manoeuvres in your womb. Also, you’ll get used to his pattern of awake and sleep periods.

·         Weeks 1-7: No movement.

·         Weeks 7-10: First movements, so subtle you’re not aware of them.

·         Weeks 10-14: Baby can turn his head, and move arms towards the face. He can also hiccup, suck, swallow and yawn.

·         Weeks 14-18: Your baby can now blink.

·         Weeks18-24: Activity increases asour baby’s co-ordination improves.

·         Weeks 24-32: Your baby will now react to a loud noise or light. You may also be able to feel him with hiccups. Period of most activity, as there is still plenty of space in your womb.

·         Weeks 32 -36: Movements begin to be less, as your baby is growing and there’s less space to move about. Around week 36 to 38, your baby will turn around for his final position before birth. Some babies however, swim freely up to delivery. With your baby upside down, most likely you’ll feel a lot of kicks in your ribs, which may even become uncomfortable.

·         Weeks 36-40: By now, his head may have dropped into your pelvis in preparation for birth. Movements are becoming more restricted as space is at a premium in your womb. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that his sleeping patterns are opposite to yours. Your movements during the day make him sleep, only to be very active at night when you are trying to sleep. This may continue for a few days after birth.

When to be worried about my baby’s movements?

You’ll soon get used to your baby’s movement patterns during the day. All babies are different and some are more active than others. As a general rule, as long as you don’t notice a marked difference in his movements, your baby is quite happy.

If you’re not sure whether you felt your baby move during the day or not, sit down for a few minutes and relax. You may feel your baby then. If that fails, try lying on your side, as it’s easier to fell movements in that position. Alternatively, try shining a light in your tummy, drinking a cold glass of water or make a loud noise. All these will stimulate your baby to move.


Importantly, if your baby doesn’t move after a loud noise or if you haven’t felt your baby for a day or felt much less movements than normal, contact your midwife immediately. This may be an indication that your baby is under stress and you may need medical assistance.

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