When I felt my baby kick and wriggle for the first time I wasn’t entirely sure that it was really him. What was that odd little twitch?
I had been waiting for the flutter of butterflies or popping bubbles (which is how many women describe these first baby kicks) but what I had just felt was most definitely more like a muscle spasm.
You know, when your finger for no apparent reason starts twitching on its own and you watch it moving, thinking, how weird. Well, it felt like that.
Over time, these twitches morphed into more definite movements and there was no doubt that he was really in there, twisting, rolling, kicking and punching me in response to my movements, sounds, foods – or just because he felt like it.
Throughout the second half of my pregnancy there were lots of things I realised I didn’t know about baby kicks.
There were times when I worried why he hadn’t started moving yet or whether he’d moved enough. Or wondered how the movements would differ at different stages of the pregnancy.
Here are the questions I had for my midwife that may help put your mind at rest if, like me, you worry, question and Google for a living.
Everything I wish I’d Known About Baby Kicks
When will my baby start kicking?
Baby kicks will start to be felt between weeks 16 and 24 of your pregnancy, according to the NHS. If this is your first baby, you may not feel kicks until 20-24 weeks because your stomach muscles are tighter and bump is usually more solid.
The position of your placenta can also affect when you feel those first baby kicks. If it’s facing the front – known as an anterior placenta – it can cushion the movements so that you don’t feel them before around 28 weeks of pregnancy. The position of your placenta will have been documented at your scan.
Will baby kicks be felt every day, all the time?
At the beginning, your baby will kick and move on and off, at random times. There will probably be no pattern and you may feel like they’re really active one day and super quiet the next.
This is completely acceptable.
It’s important to remember that every pregnancy and every baby is unique. What is ‘normal’ for you and this pregnancy may be unusual for someone else.
From around week 28 of your pregnancy you will be asked to pay more attention to your baby’s movements. They should be felt every day at this stage of your pregnancy and your baby will have developed their own pattern of movements.
Will baby kicks increase in regularity and frequency?
Yes, up until your third trimester. By this time, your baby will have established a pattern. This pattern could be that they are predictably unpredictable! But you as the mother will start to notice that your baby becomes more active, say, in the morning and at night.
Baby kicks should be felt every day in the third trimester and a change in pattern should be flagged with a healthcare professional.
What does a change in the pattern of baby kicks mean?
If your baby always kicks or moves first thing in the morning, and one morning you feel nothing at all. you should speak to your midwife or visit your local hospital straight away. It’s always best to check on your baby as soon as possible just in case they are in distress for some reason. Plus, it will put your mind at rest.
What if the pattern is the same but the frequency or intensity of movements reduces?
If your baby always kicks up a storm at night but you notice that their movements seem to have changed, consult your midwife.
A change in your baby’s movements could be due to a variety of factors. It can be as simple as the baby is in a different position to that which you’ve become used to, and therefore movements feel different. It could be that you’ve been stressed or tired and the baby is feeling a little less enthused and energetic as a result. Or it could be more serious, and could indicate infection or reduced oxygen or blood flow to your baby.
There is no hard and fast rule as to when you should seek assistance for a change in your baby’s movements, however my midwife (and NHS guidelines) recommend that if you are at all worried, you should contact your health provider or midwife straight away.
I experienced this myself. I contacted my my midwife to let her know that I had noticed a slight change / reduction in movements and she advised me to go for a CTG if I was concerned.
Because my baby was still moving but just seemed a little less energetic than usual, I decided to carefully monitor movements over the next 24 hours. In my situation, the baby’s movements picked up again so I took no further action.
But you are concerned, you could opt for a doppler scan (to check blood flow) or, if movements reduce significantly or stop, it’s best to head straight to hospital for a CTG.
Will baby kicks reduce as the baby gets bigger and runs out of room?
No. Your baby should continue to move with frequency in the pattern you learn to recognise right up until he/she is born.
Should I count kicks?
I haven’t counted kicks as I know that babies and their movements vary so greatly, and becoming obsessive about whether baby has kicked 8 or 10 times in the past hour will stress me out.
Ultimately, the pattern is what you should focus on.
Does the type of movement change as the pregnancy progresses?
Yes. By trimester three you may start to notice the difference between hands wriggling and feet kicking, and the baby will turn and twist in your tummy which will feel strange at first.
As the baby’s position changes, you may notice that baby leans on your bladder more sending you running to the bathroom more frequently!
Once it starts to get cramped in there – usually around month 8 – you may feel less somersaults and more elbows and knees. Kicks may feel less energetic and you may feel bigger movements and turns instead.
Remember, a change in the type of movement is usually fine. It’s a break in the pattern of movements (when baby moves and how frequently) that can be a cause for concern.
Trust your instincts, mumma
Have faith in yourself. And if you’re concerned, talk to your midwife.
You know your baby better than anyone else so if something doesn’t feel right, flag it with a healthcare professional right away.
No question is too silly and you will never regret being cautious when it comes to the welfare of your baby.
Here’s a handy NHS guide to baby kicks and movements that my midwife shared with me.
Have you experienced any anxiety where baby kicks are concerned? Have you learned anything that I haven’t touched upon?
It would be great to hear your comments.