The quickening is something every mom-to-be looks forward to. No, we’re not talking about the quickening phenomenon from Highlander – although it can feel that way. We’re talking about the first time you feel your baby move.
From the very moment you find out that you’re pregnant, you wonder: when will I feel my baby move?
Table of Contents
- What is Quickening?
- 7 Things to Know about Fetal Movement
- 1. New Moms Will Feel Movement Later in the Pregnancy
- 2. Babies Move as Part of Their Development
- 3. Movement Is Felt in the Lower Abdomen
- 4. Quickening is Painless
- 5. Monitoring Movement Will Help You Understand Your Baby’s Routine
- 6. See Your Doctor if Your Baby Isn’t Moving Often
- 7. Know When to See a Doctor
What is Quickening?
Quickening is the moment in pregnancy when you start feeling your baby move. Some moms describe the feeling as tapping or fluttering, like the wings of a butterfly. Others say it feels like a punch in the gut – minus the pain.
There are some women who mistake this movement for hunger pangs or gas.
That first movement is just the start of your baby’s womb exercises. These sensations will get stronger and more frequent as your pregnancy progresses.
Why do we call it “quickening”?
The word “quick” is used in the sense of “alive,” so for centuries, quickening has been used as a marker to signal the beginning of life in the mother’s womb. While there are many debates as to when life begins, historically, quickening has been used as a legal marker.
7 Things to Know about Fetal Movement
1. New Moms Will Feel Movement Later in the Pregnancy
While every mom and pregnancy is different, women who are in their first pregnancy typically feel movement later on than women who have had at least one child.
Some mothers may feel their baby’s first movement as early as 13-16 weeks. New moms typically start feeling movement at around 18-20 weeks. Don’t worry if you don’t feel any movement by 20 weeks. Some moms won’t feel any movement until the 25th week of pregnancy. Remember, every pregnancy is different.
Experts believe that experienced moms feel movement sooner because their uterine muscles are already more relaxed from previous pregnancies, so they’re more sensitive to the movement. They also know the difference between gas (and other tummy troubles) and baby movement.
2. Babies Move as Part of Their Development
Movement is a normal part of your baby’s development, and it’s your baby’s way of practicing for life outside of the womb.
Eventually, babies learn how to move their limbs, and they learn to stretch and flex. Some may be practicing, others may be making these movements for fun.
Some mischievous babies have been caught on ultrasound while playing with their umbilical cords.
From time to time, your baby may also move as a response to your emotions or to noise.
3. Movement Is Felt in the Lower Abdomen
New moms typically anticipate feeling movement in the middle or the upper region of their bellies. But when the first movement occurs, the uterus is still pretty low. For this reason, the lower abdomen is usually where the movement is felt.
The placenta’s position will also play a role in where or how intense the movements are.
If the placenta is posterior, which is most common, kicks and punches will be more intense. If the placenta is anterior, movements may be stifled.
4. Quickening is Painless
While moms look forward to feeling their baby’s first movement, they also fear that the kick or jab may be painful.
Don’t worry – quickening is painless.
The movement is so gentle and small, you won’t feel pain. But do keep in mind that later on, as your baby develops, those kicks and punches may hurt from time to time. The key word here is “may.” Most movements just feel like pressure – usually nothing to worry about.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, your baby will switch positions, so her head will be facing down. When this happens, you may feel a little stretching that may be intense, but again, it shouldn’t be painful.
5. Monitoring Movement Will Help You Understand Your Baby’s Routine
Moms can monitor movement to get to know their baby’s routine and detect problems early on.
Start by finding a comfortable place to sit down and relax. Most moms find that the evening is the best time to monitor movement because that’s when babies are most active. Experts recommend looking for 10 movements in 2 hours, but it typically doesn’t take this long.
The number of kicks per hour isn’t as important as getting to know your baby’s routine. If your baby is always active just before bed, and one night, you notice no kicks or jabs, you may want to count the number of movements and contact your doctor to make sure your baby is okay.
6. See Your Doctor if Your Baby Isn’t Moving Often
If you notice that your baby isn’t moving often, your doctor or midwife can instruct you on how to get your baby roused.
Your doctor may recommend:
- Having a snack. All that moving around may have put your baby to sleep. Relaxing and eating something may wake her and get her moving around.
- Drink something cold or sugary. Babies can feel temperature changes. Drinking something cold may wake her up and get her moving away from those chilly spots. Sugary drinks may also give your baby a quick energy boost that will get her arms and legs moving.
- Play some music or make loud noises. Remember, babies can hear (and often respond to) external noises. Try playing loud music or making loud sounds to get your baby moving.
If your midwife’s or doctor’s instructions do not work, you may be brought into the hospital for monitoring. You’ll likely be given a non-stress test and your baby’s movements and heart rate will also be monitored.
7. Know When to See a Doctor
If you notice any of the following, see your doctor or midwife right away:
- Your baby isn’t responding to noise or other stimuli.
- Your baby isn’t making 10 or more movements in two hours.
- You notice a significant decrease in your baby’s movements, or a decrease in movement over several days.
If your baby is moving less often, it may be a sign that he isn’t getting enough oxygen or nutrients from the placenta. Your doctor will monitor your baby closely to make sure that everything is okay.
Quickening is an exciting time in pregnancy, and you’ll want to share this moment with your partner. Soon after your baby’s first movement (around 20-30 weeks), your partner will be able to physically feel movement when touching your belly.