Fetal Movement

Your baby's movements during pregnancy

One of the most exciting moments in a pregnancy is the first time you feel the baby kick. At first, it feels like a tiny fluttering in your abdomen. As the baby grows, the sensations can become much more pronounced.

Early fetal movement, called quickening, is typically felt for the first time between the 16th and 25th weeks of a pregnancy. Women in their first pregnancy are usually less likely to feel movements in the earlier weeks, but women who have already experienced at least one pregnancy can sometimes feel movement as early as week 13.


As babies grow, they need to stretch their limbs. They kick, punch, hiccup and roll around in the womb. They can respond to noises by moving and may even make movements that mirror the emotions you are feeling. Additionally, eating certain foods or sitting/lying in certain positions can cause your baby to squirm.

What Does It Feel Like?

It's difficult to describe the experience of feeling fetal movement for the first time. It's commonly described as a fluttering feeling, but that doesn't do it justice. The physical sensation may be slight, but the emotional impact of feeling your baby move inside you cannot be overstated.

For women who are pregnant for the first time, it can be hard to determine whether a tiny fluttering is the result of a fetus moving, a nervous twitch or simply gas.

Not all experts agree on the best position for feeling fetal movement, but most agree that reclining in a chair or lying down on your or side are good positions for encouraging movement. You may also find that playing some music near your baby bump increases fetal activity.

How Frequent Should The Movements Be?

In the early stages of pregnancy, it's common to only feel small flutters at infrequent intervals. As your pregnancy progresses, you should notice increased fetal movement. By the end of your second trimester, it's likely that your baby will be making as many as 30 moves per hour.

Babies tend to move most frequently at certain times of the day. Typically, they are the most active in the evenings (from about 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.), which can be quite annoying if you're trying to get to sleep and keep getting woken up by a stiff kick in the belly.

Monitoring The Movement

Once you have become accustomed to the movements you feel, it's a good idea to keep track of them. This is important because decreased fetal movement over a significant amount of time can be a sign that there is a problem with the development of your baby. Typically, it's a good idea to start counting movements around week 28 of your pregnancy. If you notice a deviation from the normal pattern of movements after this time, contact your physician.

The best way to monitor your baby's movements is to count how long it takes for him or her to make ten movements. You should notice at least ten movements in a two-hour period. If you don't notice ten movements in two hours the first time you start keeping track, don't panic--your baby might just be asleep. Just try again later in the day.