Pregnancy Stages / Development


Interpreting Fetal Movements

What to expect with fetal movements, when the kicks and movements start during pregnancy and how to count movements.

Interpreting Fetal Movements

It doesn’t matter if this is your first pregnancy or your fourth those first fetal movements are one of the highlights of the nine month gestational period. It is thrilling to feel the baby as her feet and hands kick, flap and turn cartwheels inside the womb.

Fetal movements are more than a form of entertainment giving expectant moms and dads something to discuss while passing away the hours until birth. Baby’s gymnastic routines are an indication of a healthy baby and a potentially problem free pregnancy.

When They Start

Baby begins and maintains a rapid growth track right from the start. As soon as 8 weeks after conception Jr.’s little arms and legs are capable at waving hello to mom, but the size of a baby at 8 weeks is just too small to cause mom to take notice, no matter how vigorous the motions are.

Speaking in terms of averages, first time moms are able to accurately distinguish baby’s motions from other abdominal sensations at about 16-18 weeks. It might take a bit longer for dad to feel those bumps and kick with his hand on the exterior of mom’s belly. The second and third time around moms usually feel the baby’s movements sooner because they know what to look for.

Feeling the First Flutters

The first fetal movements can be difficult to pinpoint because they are not solid kicks and turns that cause the belly to pop out comically as one sees portrayed on television. Baby’s first movements are small, just like she is. They feel more like butterflies in the belly or gas bubbles.

Kicks and Hits

Don’t worry, even though the first fluttering sensations of life are subtle, they quickly grow into large field goal scoring kicks and one punch knock-out jabs. As the baby grows in size and strength he is more able to deliver a powerful wallop that dad will not only feel but see from across the room as well.

Running Out of Space

As pregnancy progresses and mom’s belly is stretched to its farthest extent and baby is still growing, the feeling of fetal movements will change once again. Baby will eventually run out of space to make those running kicks. At this point the movements take on more of a rolling sensation, but with a great degree of elbowing and jostling.

To help paint a mental picture imagine yourself, head and all, crammed in the world’s smallest sleeping bag with three of your closest friends along side you. This is how it feels for baby to be jammed in the cramped uterine space along side the ribcage and mom’s other organs. Now, affect a roll. Yeah, it feels just like that.

Counting Motions

As space is at a premium, the movements might seem to slow down. This is when mom needs to begin consciously noticing fetal motions throughout the day. Lay down for an hour or so. Baby should be felt moving at least 10 times. If there are concerns with baby’s movements contact a health care provider without waiting for the next appointment.


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