Expecting mothers are excited about their baby’s kicks during pregnancy. These kicks start after a particular gestational age and keep reminding you of the life that is growing inside and will soon be in your arms. The kicks also enable fathers to connect with their babies. Moreover, the baby’s kicks indicate the healthy development of your baby. Therefore, most doctors advise you to keep track of these movements to ensure the well-being of the growing baby.
The below post shares some facts about the baby’s kicks and a chart that helps track your baby’s movements.
Interesting Baby Kick Facts
After reading these facts, you cannot but marvel at the miracle called pregnancy.
1. Kicks generally signify normal development and health of a baby
The baby kicks usually indicate that your baby is developing well inside the womb. You can understand that the baby is active when they turn, tumble, roll, and kick inside the womb. Moreover, a swishing feeling or flutter can be experienced in the abdomen when the baby stretches out its limbs. These movements become more distinct towards the later stages of pregnancy.
2. The baby is likely to respond to external stimuli
Babies kick in response to some changes in the surrounding environment. Any external stimuli such as the food you eat or different noises can make the baby move or kick.
- Response to sounds: During the 20th week, the fetus begins to hear low-pitch sounds and gradually begins to high-pitched sounds as the pregnancy proceeds (1). These movements can indicate the normal growth of the baby.
- Response to foods: The food that the mother eats during pregnancy introduces the baby to various flavors through the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby inside the womb. These flavors can make the baby move if they like or dislike them (2).
3. The baby’s kicks increase when lying on the side
You can feel more kicks if you sleep on your side. This is because the supply of blood to the baby increases while lying on the left or right side, thereby improving their movements.
Professor Peter Stone of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, who led a study published in The Journal of Physiology, says: “When the mother slept on her back, the baby became less active, which conserves oxygen. We found that the babies were only in an active state when the mother was on her left or right side. When the mother changed position during sleep, for example from left to back sleeping, the baby quickly changed activity state.”
4. Kicks are felt after nine weeks
A feeling of flutter in the abdomen during the early stages of pregnancy is an indication of baby movements. The movements start around the seventh week of pregnancy, which is very early for the expecting mother to feel them. Typically, babies start kicking after sixteen weeks of gestation as they start moving their limbs (3). The early kicks can be detected during an ultrasound scan. After 24 weeks of gestation, you can feel the baby’s kicks and hiccups quite often.
5. Reduced kicks might indicate the baby’s distress
Once you complete 28 weeks, your doctor advises you to keep a count of the baby’s kicks. A baby, usually, kicks ten times in two hours (4). Reduced fetal activity can indicate fetal distress such as:
- Maternal stress or nutritional problems. Your emotional and physical state impacts the baby’s movements. Similarly, inadequate nutritional supply can lead to improper development of the brain and nervous systems that can reduce fetal activity. Drink a lot of water or keep walking around if you do not feel the movement of the baby.
- Placental abruption. This is an emergency. Dark bleeding with clots as well as woody hard and tender abdomen. It can restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to the fetus, impacting its development.
- Premature rupture of the amniotic sac. It can lead to decreased amniotic fluid and slow down fetal movements due to stress or insufficient supply of oxygen.
- Fetal hypoxia: This condition arises when the umbilical cord gets twisted, kinked or deformed. This cuts the supply of oxygen to the baby.
An ultrasound scan or a non-stress test can help determine the baby’s heartbeat and the reason for reduced fetal movements.
6. Nothing to worry about reduced kicks in late pregnancy
Usually, babies take rest in the womb for 20 to 40 minutes (sometimes up to 90 minutes) at a time. However, as they grow in size, their movements and rolling become difficult in the later stages of pregnancy. Therefore, it is normal for the number of kicks to reduce. However, during this time, you may experience painful kicks under your ribs and jerking that lasts for a few minutes (5).
7. Fetal movement indicates future behavior
According to a study, the motor behavior of the baby inside the womb is likely to influence the temperament attributes in early childhood (6). However, this is not the only criteria for a child’s behavioral development.
These facts have made you feel good, haven’t they? You wouldn’t have imagined your baby could be this active and naughty inside the womb!
After knowing these facts, we are sure that you have several questions about kicks in your womb. Read on as we answer several such questions.
Expert Tips From A Gynecologist:
- During the sixth month of gestational period, you will start to feel your baby kicking in your womb. Initially, one or two kicks/hour is a good indication that you’re pregnancy is safe.
- If you are not able to feel your baby’s kicks, wait and check after one hour.
- If you do not feel the kicks even after an hour, take sugar-based products like sweet milk, chocolate, or a pinch of sugar, and lie down in the left lateral position for ten minutes.
- Check for your baby’s kicks again. If they aren’t coming, then rush to your doctor immediately.
— Dr. Anuradha Dang, MBBS, MS
Suvidha Hospital, Jabalpur, India
Answered: 7 Questions On Baby Kicks
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on baby kicks:
1. When can I feel my baby’s movement during pregnancy?
You can feel the first baby movements around 18 weeks of pregnancy. These movements are called ‘quickening’. In the first pregnancy, you experience the movements towards the 20th week, while in the second and subsequent pregnancies, you can notice the signs around the 16th week (7). The baby’s movement patterns change as the pregnancy proceeds, making you notice about 16 to 45 movements in an hour.
2. What if the baby’s movements are reduced?
Do not ignore any noticeable change in your baby’s movements. Speak to your doctor, who will recommend a solution based on the stage of your pregnancy (8):
- Around 24 weeks: If you do not feel movements by the 24th week, then contact your doctor. An ultrasound scan help determine your baby’s well-being.
- Between 24 and 28 weeks: You will be advised a prenatal check-up that includes checking your blood pressure, measuring the size of the uterus, and testing the protein levels in your urine. You will also have an ultrasound scan.
- Over 28 weeks: A full antenatal check-up is advised and the fetal heartbeat is monitored for at least 20 minutes. An ultrasound scan will be done to check the amount of fluid in the sac, size of the uterus, growth of the baby, and the risks associated with stillbirth.
3. When should I be concerned about the baby’s movement?
You should worry if:
- you have less than ten movements in two hours.
- there is reduced response towards the external stimuli like loud noise or food.
- there is a gradual decrease in the movements for two consecutive days.
3. Why do babies kick more in the womb at night?
Babies develop a unique pattern of movements inside the womb. During the day, you might be engaged in various activities. So, when your movements stop at night while you are sleeping, the fetus might become alert and begin kicking.
Also, the fetus starts responding to sounds. So, the baby may observe that there is silence outside and hence move due to the changes in the external environment.
4. When am I not likely to feel my baby’s movement?
- You cannot feel your baby’s movements when you are active.
- If your placenta is positioned at the front of your uterus, you might not feel the movements.
- If your baby’s back is at the front of the uterus, you will feel fewer kicks than when it is lying at the back.
- If you have an increased body habitual (BMI), movements may be delayed until well into the second or third trimester.
5. Do I need to keep a count of the kicks every day?
If your pregnancy is proceeding normally, then there is no need to keep a count of your baby’s movements. But if you do not notice movements for some hours or a day, you need to monitor the kicks after a meal or when you sleep, or at the time when the baby is usually active.
Dr. Manik Pansey MBBS, MS, Anant Hospital, Jabalpur, India, advises pregnant women to maintain DMFC (daily fetal movement count chart), and check it at a fixed time every day, ideally at 8am.
6. What do I do if my baby is not kicking?
If you have noticed reduced movements then you may do this:
- Sit down and relax.
- Have a cold drink or snacks and keep your feet up. The coldness and the sugar in the food can cause the baby to respond.
- The baby might respond through hiccups, rolls, kicks, thumps or pokes.
7. How do I count the kicks?
Here is a daily kick count chart you can maintain to record the number of kicks per day (9).
Daily Kick Counts by Week of Pregnancy
Your baby’s kicks during pregnancy are one of the most exciting parts of the journey to motherhood. It’s a gentle reminder that you and your baby are doing well and are going through a healthy pregnancy. However, the baby’s kicks during pregnancy are more than just its way of showing its likes or dislikes. The timing and the frequency of the kicks may alert you about any type of distress that the baby might be experiencing. Hence, you need to be aware of the reasons behind reducing or increasing kicks during pregnancy to seek timely medical help when necessary.
- Hearing in the Womb.
- Approach to the fetal movements: a pilot study of six cases.
- Baby movements in pregnancy.
- Pregnancy—your baby’s movements and what they mean.
- Your Baby’s Movements During Pregnancy.
- Janet A DiPietro et al.; (2002); What does fetal movement predict about behavior during the first two years of life?.
- Baby movements during pregnancy.
- Your baby’s movements in pregnancy.
- Your Baby’s Activity Record.