Skip to main content

Fetal Movement: What’s Normal and What’s Not?

Fetal Movement: What’s Normal and What’s Not?

Feeling your baby’s first kicks is one of the most special moments in your pregnancy. Fetal movement — also known as quickening — is more than just a warm and fuzzy milestone. It can also give you clues about your baby’s health and development.

Whether you’re just starting your first trimester or you’re already feeling your baby wiggle, you might wonder what’s normal and what’s not. 

Read on as our team at OBGYN Westside, PLLC, reviews what to expect when it comes to fetal movement.

When do you start to feel fetal movements?

Most expectant mothers begin to feel their baby move between 20-24 weeks of pregnancy. This can vary based on several factors, including whether it's your first pregnancy. 

The location of your placenta can also impact how early you feel your baby move. An anterior placenta — when your placenta attaches to the part of your uterus closer to your belly button — can dull some of those earliest flutters.

First-time mothers might not recognize these subtle movements until closer to 24 weeks. Women pregnant with their second or third child might notice them a bit earlier.

What is normal?

Fetal movement can vary from one pregnancy to another, but there are general patterns and milestones to keep in mind:

Movements at the beginning of your second trimester

Once your baby reaches the 12-week mark, all their bones, muscles, and organs are developed. This means they’ll be able to move quite a bit even if you can’t feel it. If you have an ultrasound at this point, you’ll be able to see just how active your baby is.

Once you reach the 20-24 week mark, movements may feel like gentle flutters, bubbles, or even a light tapping sensation. These early movements are typically sporadic and may be more noticeable when you‘re resting quietly.

Mid-pregnancy movements

Around 24-28 weeks gestation, your baby’s movements become more pronounced. You might feel kicks, rolls, and even hiccups. These movements can be felt more frequently and become stronger as your baby develops muscles and coordination.

Movements during your third trimester 

By your third trimester, movements are more regular and can follow a pattern. You should feel your baby move several times throughout the day. It's common to notice more activity after meals, after drinking something cold, or when you lie down to rest.

You may even begin to identify your baby’s head, elbow, or bottom as they roll and turn.

How to tell if your baby’s movements are normal

During your third trimester, you’ll start to count your baby’s kicks. Counting your baby’s kicks means that you:

To count your baby’s kicks, sit or lie down in a quiet place where you can focus on your baby's movements. Track the number of movements until you reach 10. This can include kicks, rolls, or any noticeable movements.

Many babies snooze throughout the day, especially if you’ve been busy walking or on your feet all day. If you’ve been busy and haven’t noticed your baby moving, they may be sleeping. Try eating a snack or drinking a little juice and then lying down. 

Ideally, after you are 30 weeks pregnant, you should feel at least 10 movements within one hours. Most babies will move much more frequently than this.

Many pregnancy apps offer a space to track your baby’s kicks. You could also set a timer on your phone as a reminder to count kicks at the same time every day. 

What to give us a call

If you notice a significant decrease in your baby's movements or if it takes longer than usual to reach 10 movements, please reach out to our team. It's always better to be cautious and check in if you have concerns.

Call our office or our after-hours number for urgent concerns about your baby’s movements. To schedule your next prenatal appointment at our office located on the Upper West Side of New York City, give us a call or book your appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Myths and Facts About the Fourth Trimester

Your fourth trimester — the time gap that spans from your baby’s birth to the first 12 weeks after delivery — is a time for healing and bonding. But there are a lot of misconceptions about this time. Read on and debunk seven common myths.
My Pap Smear Results Were Abnormal — Now What?

My Pap Smear Results Were Abnormal — Now What?

Pap smears are a type of cervical cancer screening that looks for any precancerous changes in your cells. If you receive an abnormal result, you may wonder what that means and what you should do next. Read on to find out.
Ask These Questions at Your First Prenatal Appointment

Ask These Questions at Your First Prenatal Appointment

Getting ready for your first prenatal appointment? Many moms-to-be are excited for this appointment as it officially kicks off your pregnancy journey. Continue reading as we share eight questions to consider asking at your first prenatal appointment. 

Tips for Thriving Through Your Third Trimester

As you enter your third trimester of pregnancy, the anticipation of meeting your little one may be accompanied by a mix of excitement and physical challenges. Continue reading to learn our top tips for thriving through your third trimester.

6 Medical Causes of Spotting Between Periods

Spotting between periods is common and can happen to most women once in a blue moon. However, should irregular bleeding continue for more than 2 to 3 cycles, we recommend scheduling an exam. Read on to learn more.

Should I get an Epidural?

If you’ve been thinking about your birth plan, you have probably been presented with a lot of choices, including what type of pain relief you’d like during labor. The good news is that whatever you decide now, you can almost always change your mind.