When Does Fetal Movement Start? Where Will I Feel It?

You might feel that your body is being taken over by aliens during pregnancy, and the only thing that’s reassuring you that all is fine is fetal movements, the method through which your baby communicates with you. Did you cry out in joy when you first felt it? What exactly is fetal movement like, where will you feel it, and is it different in first-time pregnancies?

When do I feel quickening?

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The very first fetal movements you feel are called quickening. In general, moms who feel the quickening early say it began around Week 17, but the norm is sometime around Week 21. Moms who feel quickening late might feel it for the first time around Weeks 23 to 24.

Fetal movement isn’t an indication of the rate of fetal growth, so feeling it late doesn’t mean your baby isn’t growing well. You might not be able to feel your baby’s small movements, and this could be because of your build, the thickness of your skin and your physical constitution in general.

Fetal movement doesn’t begin when you start feeling it – your baby starts moving even while the baby was much smaller. The embryo in Week 8 actually starts to move as their brains, muscles and nervous systems are developing and they can move their body and limbs. However, the embryo is still small, and as they don’t come into contact with the uterus lining, you won’t be able to feel the fetal movements.

You might feel something moving in your belly at times, but as your baby is still very small, it might be difficult to ascertain if what you felt was in actual fact, fetal movement. If you still haven’t felt any fetal movement even after Week 25 has passed, you might want to talk to your OB-GYN about it. If the ultrasound scan shows you a healthy and growing baby, you don’t have to worry too much about this!

Where will I feel my baby kicking?

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Fetal movement can refer to babies stretching their hands and legs and turning around in the amniotic sac. Where you feel the fetal movements depends on the fetus’ position, so there is no fixed part of your body where you might feel the movements.

If the baby has a preference for a certain position, you might feel similar fetal movements in similar locations. This might change when the baby becomes bigger and is unable to turn around as freely as before as the pregnancy progresses.

Moms who had babies in a breech position have shared that they feel the fetal movement in a completely different area of their abdomen after the position of their fetuses changed to a vertex position. If the baby is in a breech position, fetal movements will usually be felt as sudden pressure on the bladder and the anus.

Will I feel fetal movements when I’m asleep?

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When you’re lying on your back and not doing anything much, you might feel more fetal movements than usual. It’s as if your baby is asking for some attention when they know you’re not doing anything else. What about when you’re fast asleep?

Even when you’re asleep, your baby will still move – it’s just that you’re unaware of it! The baby will develop a cycle of 20-minutes sleep and 20-minutes activity, and this cycle is repeated even while you’re sleeping at night. It’s hard to get decent sleep when pregnant, and some moms said that their fetuses seem to play pranks on them – their babies move about vigorously just when they were on the brink of falling asleep, causing them to feel wide awake all over again and adding to their insomnia woes.

Fetal movement in a first-time pregnancy usually starts later?

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It’s said that fetal movement might be more difficult to feel if you’re of a bigger build, you have a bigger frame, bigger bones, and thicker abdominal skin. How about moms who’re pregnant for the first time? Fetal movement in a first-time pregnancy doesn’t necessarily start later; they might start early, but the mother with no prior experience might not have registered that there were, in fact, fetal movements.

Fetal movements can easily be mistaken as indigestion, the digesting of meals after eating, or bowel movements. It’s probably because the first-time mother might not be aware of the differences in the movements. However, when fetal movement becomes stronger and more distinct around Weeks 19 to 23, most moms will be able to tell which movements are fetal movements and which aren’t.

Baby kicking: Until when will I feel them?

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Even when you enter the last month of pregnancy, or up to right before you go into labor, you might continue to feel fetal movements. As the pregnancy nears labor, the baby grows bigger, and the frequency of fetal movements decreases because the fetus is unable to move around as freely as before.

In the last trimester of pregnancy, the fetal movement count drops, and the movements might be weaker in comparison to the movements in the second trimester. This is no cause for alarm. However, you should call the hospital when you don’t feel any fetal movement during a 24-hour period.

Fetal movements, signs of growth

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Fetal movements are your baby’s way of communicating with you. When you feel your baby moving inside you, your baby is reassuring you that they’re growing fine. So, answer your baby by stroking your belly and talking to them gently. You might have felt a little worried about the movements at first, but they are extremely important signs of your baby’s health and growth, so be on the lookout for them and continue to monitor your body while enjoying the random kicks from your baby.