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Healthy Pregnancy Series: Feeling the Baby Move

admin January 26, 2011

When you’re pregnant, one of the most wonderful things is feeling the baby move inside you.  Knowing your baby is alive and real is just an amazing sensation, even before he/she is born.  But when can you expect to feel the baby move?  Will it hurt?  What does it feel like?

A lot of women wonder about this, especially with their first pregnancies.  And while the answers vary widely, there are some “averages” that we can discuss!

When Will My Baby Move?

Truthfully, your baby is moving from only around 6 or 8 weeks into your pregnancy but is too small for you to feel yet.  The baby reaches 1″ long around 10 weeks, which is still pretty tiny!  Some women, especially those who are pregnant for the second time or more, may feel their babies around 8 – 10 weeks, but this is rare.  Most women start to feel their babies move sometime between 12 and 16 weeks the first time, and a bit earlier in subsequent pregnancies.

It is not unheard of for women not to feel their babies until past 20 weeks, though, especially in first pregnancies.  Having a tilted uterus, being overweight, or simply for “no reason” at all, you may not feel your baby until later.  I didn’t feel my first until 23 weeks, and my second until 20, for “no reason,” but nothing was wrong.  I felt my third baby at around 10 weeks, though!

What Does it Feel Like?

At first, it’s hard to tell if you’re really feeling your baby.  If you’re feeling the baby fairly early (before 16 weeks), it will be very low and central (your uterus doesn’t reach your belly button until around 20 weeks).  If you are early on and think you feel your baby higher, it’s probably not the baby yet.

Early movements feel like little swishes or even bubbles.  Some women, especially first-time moms, can mistake gas bubbles or other internal movements for the baby.  Once you feel insistent little thumps, you can be sure it’s the baby!  Later you’ll feel stronger and stronger movements as your baby grows, and there will be no mistaking what it is!

Does it Hurt When the Baby Moves?

At first, no.  The baby is too small to hurt you in any way.  But as the baby grows, some movements may be uncomfortable.  When your baby is quite large (past about 28 weeks) and is starting to run out of room, some movements can hurt.  The baby can kick you in the ribs, or elbow your side sharply (and keep the elbow there!), stretch and push down on your bladder, etc.  It is possible to move your baby by pushing from the outside to tuck elbows and knees back in again.  Of course, some babies are pretty stubborn and shove their limbs right back out again!

When Can We Feel it from the Outside?

For a lot of men, the first time they can really participate in the pregnancy is when they can feel the baby move from the outside.  This usually is possible between 20 and 24 weeks.  If you lie still and possibly eat something sweet (fruit is sweet enough), the baby will get active and your husband can sit and put his hand on your belly.  He may get to feel the baby kick him!

After a while, the baby’s movements will be so strong that you’ll be able to clearly see him or her moving if you lie still.  While reclined in bed or in a bath is a good time to watch your baby move.  Your belly will take on all kinds of funny shapes, and will jump as the baby moves!  If you place something on your belly (like a light book), your baby may even kick it off.  And later in pregnancy, you may even feel your baby hiccup!

feeling the baby move

Should I Ever Be Concerned about Movement?

In your third trimester, your doctor may ask you to do a “kick count”every day.  This is where you lie down and count the number of kicks/movements you feel within a certain period of time, usually about an hour.  You should feel at least 10 movements in this time.  It is important, however, to note that babies do sleep, so if your baby isn’t moving, it may just be because he is tired!

Your baby may also have “quiet days” or “quiet times,” in which s/he doesn’t move very much.  But most of the time, s/he will be so active throughout the day that you won’t even need to do a count.

However, there can be concerns if you don’t feel any movement for several hours.  If you’re worried, lie down and drink some juice or something else sweet.  Poke your belly and try to wake your baby.  If you don’t feel any movement within 20 minutes or so, call your doctor or midwife and ask for a non- stress test (checking the heart rate and for any contractions).  Especially if your baby is usually quite active and suddenly does not move for awhile, this can help reassure you that everything is okay.

Most of the time the baby is just having an “off day,” but on rare occasions, lack of movement does mean that something is wrong, possibly requiring emergency delivery, or, on even rarer occasions, that the baby has already died.  But please know this is extremely rare and that almost all episodes of non-movement are just because you have been too busy to notice, and/or the baby is having a quiet day.

And that’s what you need to know about feeling your baby move!

When did you feel your baby move for the first time?  What did it feel like to you?  Were you ever “tricked” into thinking you felt your baby when you really didn’t?

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12 Comments

  1. 15 and 1/2 weeks pregnant with my first, and still waiting patiently to feel those first few flutters. Hopefully someday soon, now! 🙂

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  2. My first hardly moved at all and now that I'm pregnant with my second I'm getting kicked every second! Thank God it's not the other way around or I'd probably be so nervous. Thanks for this great info. I love how you talk about the husband piece – for some reason my husband is so freaked out by the baby kicking – he says it feels like a little alien to him! Have you ever heard of anyone else feeling like that before?

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  3. I'm 26 weeks now and can feel and see my little monster moving about frequently. He has woken me up a few times and has already dumped a book off my belly. Sometimes, the movements hurt. Especially if he is moving from the front to the back or from side to side. It can feel almost like a cramp and then it settles and I will find him lodged in the front and making me look very lumpy.

    I started feeling him at about 22 weeks. At first, it wasn't daily and I couldn't tell what body part was there. It took about a week for me to be able to feel around and tell if it was his head or his butt that was causing the lump. It was really an amazing day when I realized the hard spot I was feeling around was his little baby head. It was so tiny, but so BIG!!!

    I get daily bouts of movement. Usually, he'll get going for about an hour at a time and he'll do that four or five times a day.

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  4. im 10 weeks with my 2nd baby, yesterday and this morning, i feel my baby is the lower partg of my belly, baby was just pushing out, my belly got really hard, and me and my husband felt it<3 it was amazing, and with our first child, i didnt feel anythang till i was like 16 or 17 weeks i believe!<3

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  5. i’m 10 weeks and 2 days pregnant. This is my third baby and i believe i felt baby moving around in there for the first time today.I was drinking a sweet tea and wow..(.i usually don’t drink sweet tea often) and no way was it gas…now it stopped after i finished my tea..i believe i would still have the gas if that’s what it was. So yes drink something sweet ladies and see..This just happened for me.Good luck mommies.

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  6. I’m 15 1/2 weeks and I swear I’m feeling baby move. My mom and some family say I shouldn’t yet and I wasn’t sure before but now I really think I feel it. My next Dr. Spot is in a week and a half so I’ll ask her then. My wife is dying to be able to feel it on the outside

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  7. tomorrow im ten weeks second babe. i was laying on my side and i felt asharp jab that felt like a older babe elbow then some soft movement after it came from the lower center of my belly so i know it wasn’t gas. i was surprised by the sharp jab. have any one experience this

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    • This sharp jabbing is not likely the baby as the baby is teensy tiny at this point, but it could very easily be some stretching of some sort. I am pregnant with my sixth baby after having a tubal ligation two and half years ago. With this pregnancy and my last I could feel every change my body made from the beginning of my pregnancy’s. My last I felt changes in my uterus at 4 weeks, I didn’t even know I was pregnant, but when I started feeling changes, I took a test and sure enough I was pregnant. The more babies you have the more you get to know the changes that occur in your body. At times it is confusing because in the early weeks, your body makes many changes and it easy to think that it is the baby moving but it could be that we are just simply feeling the changes in our bodies to accommodate our new babes. It’s a beautiful experience.

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  8. My very first child I was just barely 12 weeks and I was driving I leaned forward real quick which put my lower stomach In an odd position and I felt my first flutters that grew stronger and more often from that point on. My second and third I also felt by 12 weeks they were very active! I’m now pregnant with my fourth and I felt my first movements in my 10th week once again sitting down leaned over I Even had an ultrasound they put a transvaginal in me and while they were moving it around the baby jumped which I clearly saw on the ultrasound while I was feeling it I told the ultrasound technician she said I doubt it the tissue around the baby is still really thick it really made me mad I know what I felt and saw it even!

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  9. To estimate I am now on my 6 and 3 days, for the past few days I have been feeling a flutters or a gas moving in my uterus and sometimes i feel cramps and always feel so tired. my period did come in august and I had xes wth my husband Aug 24 to september 2, 5x. then i had my period 7th of september and lasted 5 days the same this october had my period on 6th and lasted for 5 days but after my normal period I have been spotting a light blood color and sometimes pink. is this mean that I am pregnant?
    this is my first pregnancy if I am. but do hope and pray that I am pregnant, I badly want a baby. 25yr/PH

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  10. I am 4 to 5 weeks pregenat is what the blood tests results said at the doctor today… I am feeling some cramps not too harsh tho and some thumping in that area… is that normal?? I found out around this time last year that I was prego and wond up having a miscarriage in January 🙁 I am so nervous for that to happen again! please say a little prayer that my baby will stay with us !!!

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  11. My Lil baby boy is demanding his kicks are like demands if I walk to much he’ll settle around my pelvic area kicking away until I sit then he’ll reposition himself if I sit too long he’ll stretch across my stomach kicking until i lie back when I lay down and relax he does the same if someone touches his stomach because its no longer mine lol he’ll kick them until they move my Dr has to hold him still to get a good heart check he is making himself known he said mommy I’m coming get ready for me lol I started feeling him way earlier than my other babies and I was small with them I’m heavy didn’t expect to feel the baby moving at ten weeks if you had previous children you know the difference in gas and little baby flutters I felt stronger movements at 14 weeks he is my Lil man I pray we meet safe and sound one day and same to you ladies congrats on the Lil joy bundles..

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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