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By When You Start To Feel Your Baby Kicking


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The moment when you first feel those tiny flutters of your baby kicking is one of the most exciting moments in your pregnancy. These tiny movements are also a reassurance to you that your baby is healthy and developing well. It will also help you feel closer to your baby inside you.  It’s normal to be confused at first, especially if it’s your first baby. Let us help you learn all that there is that you need to know about fetal movement during pregnancy.

Why Do I Feel Movement in my stomach?

Fetal movement is a significant stage in your baby’s development. Your baby needs to move in the womb as it helps to develop its joints, muscles, and bones. Movement helps them grow. Movements like stretching, kicking and moving to prepare your baby for life outside after being born. If your baby isn’t moving around in your womb, it could indicate a problem with amniotic fluid levels or your placenta. However, there’s no need to panic if your baby is not overly active. Simply book an appointment with your obstetrician who will be happy to make sure everything is normal.

When Do I Feel My Baby Kicking?

Ideally, you feel your baby’s first movements, which is called quickening,” between the 16th to 25th week of your pregnancy although some people may feel it sooner or later.  It happens when a pregnant person starts to feel their baby’s first movement in the womb. It feels like flutters, bubbles, or tiny pulse. Initially, it may feel strange to feel your baby move in your uterus (womb). You may not be able to guess if it’s your baby moving, gas, or something else. You’re more likely to feel the baby move when you’re in a quiet position, either sitting or lying down.

If you’ve been pregnant before, you may feel fetal movement around the 16th week of pregnancy. Although, if this is your first pregnancy, it’s common not to feel movement until 20 weeks.

Some factors which may impact when you feel movement in your belly are:

  • If you’ve had a baby before. Your uterine muscles may be more relaxed due to previous pregnancies and may thus be more sensitive to movement. Also, you know what to expect as compared to a first-time parent.
  • The location of your placenta. An anterior placenta (the placenta is between your uterus and belly) may make it difficult to feel the initial movements.
  • If your baby is generally inactive or active.

 Once you start to feel these tiny “quickening” movements, it brings comfort to know that your unborn baby (fetus) is growing and is healthy. Feeling your baby move can also strengthen the bond and connection that you feel during your pregnancy.

Where do I feel the fetal movement in my belly?

Typically, Fetal Movement is felt towards the lower side of your belly, near your pubic bone. Early fetal movements are mild and subtle, and your baby is still tiny. By the 12th week of pregnancy, your uterus is low in your abdomen or at your pubic bone. The top of your uterus (fundus) is at your belly button when you’re 20 weeks pregnant. This means that you won’t feel movement much higher than your belly button until after 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

What Does the Baby’s Kicking Feel Like?

Initially, it may be hard to tell whether your baby has moved. Most first-time moms describe their baby’s movements as butterflies, nervous twitches, or a tumbling motion. 

Second- and third-time mothers are more capable of differentiating between those first baby movements from gas, hunger pangs, and other internal motions.

By your second and third trimesters, the fetal movements should be more noticeable and distinct, and you’ll be able to feel your baby’s kicks, jabs, and elbows.

Are The Fetal Movements Constant?

In the beginning, it’s normal to feel your baby move on and off. Sometimes it may feel like it’s been a few days since you last felt a movement. Once the initial quickening changes into stronger wiggles and kicks, your baby’s movements will become more consistent and you feel them on a more regular basis. It is important to remember that your baby sleeps and rests just like you do, so it is normal to experience periods of inactivity. Try not to worry too much. If needed, talk to your healthcare provider about what you can expect each day.

How Often Should I Feel My Baby Moving?

It varies from person to person. Early in your pregnancy, you may just feel a few flutters every now and then. You should generally feel some movement by 20 to 24 weeks in pregnancy. Your obstetrician can give you an idea of what you can expect for those early fetal movements.

Babies tend to move more at certain times of the day as they alternate between alertness and sleep. Fetal movement is usually most active between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., right around when it is time for your sleep. This increased activity is attributed to your changing blood sugar levels. Babies can also sometimes respond to sounds or touch, and may even kick your partner in the back if you are snuggled too close in bed.

Fetal movement in the second trimester

The second trimester is considered to be the most glorious time period of pregnancy. The morning sickness tends to wear off and you don’t yet feel huge and strange like a parade tableau. During the second trimester, your baby’s movements can be a little unpredictable. You will feel those initial fluttery movements, which can start early in the second trimester but might also show up a little later on.

Next, generally, you’ll start feeling those fetal movements a little more frequently — and a little more intensely. It is like your baby does a warm-up.  As your baby grows bigger, the movements will get larger, too, and you may start to feel some stretches and maybe even some punches and kicks.

If you feel your baby moves less than this or that you are still waiting for your baby’s first strong kicks, try not to panic. Most likely your baby is perfectly healthy, and its movements are not strong enough to feel yet. Talk to your obstetrician if you’re concerned and they can reassure you that your baby is OK or perform additional tests.

Fetal movement in the third trimester

Research studies show that by the third trimester, the baby moves about 30 times each hour. You may start to notice some patterns in your baby’s movements at some point in this last trimester. You may also feel that your baby is more active at certain times of day or night.

Now, the movements may seem greater and more vigorous and you may experience movements that may feel like a particularly enthusiastic kick or punch. Your partner may be able to see your baby moving under your skin. 

This, however, is also the time in your pregnancy when your baby starts to run out of room to wiggle around in your uterus. It is because your baby’s gaining weight, and getting stronger. Subsequently, your baby can’t stretch and move quite as freely anymore. 

Your baby might not move as much as you’d expect due to them being squeezed into an increasingly smaller space, but you should still continue to feel movement. This is when your doctor might suggest doing a kick count.

What’s a kick counting?

It is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s done by counting the number of kicks you feel from your baby in the uterus in a certain time period.

 It’s sometimes also called a fetal movement count (FMC).

When To Start Counting Kicks?

 Once your baby’s movements are well established (usually by week 28), you pick a time of day and you count the number of times your baby kicks or moves during that time frame. You can even use an app to help you keep track of the fetal movements. 

 Some obstetricians recommend that you keep a track of all those little punches, jabs, and kicks to make sure your baby is developing the way it should. This is known as a fetal movement assessment, fetal kick count, or fetal movement counting.

Generally, it’s a good thing to do a kick count at the same time every day, for the best comparison. The focus should be on the baby’s movement, and it must be observed how long it takes to get to 10 kicks.

Do not be alarmed and go into a frenzy If your baby doesn’t kick, squirm, or poke you 10 times within an hour. Try having a snack, changing position, and then continuing your count for another hour. You and your baby are good and you can stop the count If you reach 10 kicks before the second hour is up. However,  if you are consistently monitoring a kick count on a daily basis and then observe a day when the movements drop off, call your doctor immediately. 

Why is kick-counting important?

Fetal movement is one of the ways to keep a check on the baby’s health in the womb. Every pregnant woman should learn about the normal pattern and number of movements of her own baby. If you observe a change in the normal pattern or number of fetal movements, it may mean that your baby may be under stress. Additionally,  keep in mind that it’s not normal for a baby to stop moving at the start of labor. 

Is Fetal Movement Counting Risky?

No, there are no risks to you or your unborn baby during fetal movement counting. Instead, it can help to pick up on decreased fetal movement and help prevent problems for the baby. You can do the fetal movement counting as often as your healthcare provider advises.

How Do I Count Kicks?

There are many guidelines for how many kicks are normal at a certain time and there are several ways to do kick counts. It varies as to how to count your baby’s movements, but the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends noting the time it takes for your baby to make 10 movements. You should feel at least 10 movements within a period of 2 hours.

It helps to make a chart of your baby’s kicks so that you can keep track of your baby’s normal patterns of movement. For counting movements, you can pick a time when your baby is usually most active (this is usually right after you’ve eaten a meal).

 It is ideal to get into a comfortable position either sitting down in a comfortable chair or lying on your side. If you lie down on your left side, your baby will have better circulation. Now write down the number of times you feel the baby kick or move in one hour. After many days, you may notice that your baby usually moves about the same number of times per hour. This is known as your baseline number.

Decreased Fetal Movement 

It is natural for some babies to just move less often than others. A decreased or absent movement also may mean that your baby is sleeping. You may try another time to begin a kick count when your baby seems to be more active. 

Ten kicks in two hours are the most widely accepted range. However, it’s time to call your doctor If your baby has started to move regularly and you don’t feel at least 10 movements within a 2-hour period, or the movements have slowed significantly 

Usually, decreased movement may be completely benign (harmless). However, there may be other more potentially dangerous reasons that the baby might not be moving around as much.

There may be a problem with the baby’s growth and it might have slowed down. Or there could be an issue with your uterus or with your baby’s placenta. It’s also likely that it could be what the doctors call a Nuchal Cord, a condition where your baby’s umbilical cord could have gotten wrapped around their neck. 

When Do You Feel Movement In Pregnancy?

So when do you feel the fetal movements in pregnancy? Here’s what you may feel and observe during the different weeks as your pregnancy progresses : 

  • Week 12: Your baby should start to move, but you probably won’t feel anything because the baby is still very small.
  • Week 16: Some pregnant women may start to feel tiny butterfly-like flutters. However, it might just be gas, or it might be the baby moving.
  • Week 20: By this time, you may start to really feel your baby’s first movements, called “quickening.”
  • Week 24: The fetal movements become more settled and established. You may feel slight twitches when your baby hiccups.
  • Week 28: Your baby’s movement is more frequent now. Some of the kicks and jabs may be more pronounced.
  • Week 36: As the baby grows the movements should slow down a bit due to less space in the uterus. You should still feel consistent movement throughout the day. However, alert your doctor if you notice significant changes in your baby’s usual activity. 


  • How Can I Increase Fetal Movement?

Babies tend to be less active during the day. This is because your movements may be rocking them to sleep. Here are a few things that you may try to increase the baby’s movements.

  1. Eat a snack or drink something sweet like orange juice.
  2. Get up and move around.
  3. Shine a flashlight onto your belly.
  4. Talk to your baby.
  5. Gently push or poke at your belly where you can feel your baby
  • Does increased or frantic movement mean I’m in labor?

It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re about to go into labor. While decreased movements have been linked to possible complications, the opposite isn’t necessarily true.


It’s amazing to experience your baby’s first flutters (commonly called “quickening”) while you’re pregnant. Being baffled at first is a typical reaction, especially if it’s your first child. By 20 weeks of pregnancy, the majority of women experience movement and describe it as the sound of bubbles popping or a faint tapping. Similarly, each woman will feel the movement differently. 

Every woman experiences pregnancy differently, and every baby is unique. Your healthcare provider can reassure you that everything is OK and help you determine what normal movement feels like for your pregnancy. 

Srujana Mohanty
She is the Managing Editor of Cogito137, one of India’s leading student-run science communication magazines. She's been working in scientific and medical writing and editing since 2018, also associated with the quality assurance team of scientific journal editing. Majored in Chemistry with a minor in Biology at IISER Kolkata, Srujana loves doodling and watching series.


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