The first time your baby kicks is a truly thrilling experience! That is the time when you really feel the little one growing inside you, communicating with you in a way that only the two of you can understand.
That said, you’ll be pleased to know that your unborn infant’s kicks are not just a ‘hi’ for you and daddy but a way to maximize their growth and development!
A study published in the Journal of the Royal Society has found out that wiggling in utero can actually help in the development of the baby’s bones (1). They analyzed the nature and the intensity of the kicks during various stages of in-the-womb growth, and this is what they discovered –
- At 20 – 30 Weeks: The infant’s kicks get much stronger as revealed by the MRI scans of these kicks.
- The Intensity Of The Kick Determines The Stress On The Baby’s Joints: If the kick is strong, the stress on the joints can be higher and vice versa.
- The Frequency Of Kicks Reduces At 35 Weeks: During the 35th week of pregnancy, the baby’s kicks reduce because they don’t have much room left to wiggle in.
- Growth And Pressure Increase Continually: Even though the baby doesn’t kick as much, the pressure on their joints and leg bones continue to increase, which helps them grow.
- Movement In Utero Is The Key To Growth: According to the study, the right movements play a major role in fetal growth, which explains why premature babies often end up with joint or bone disorders.
- Baby’s In Utero Movements Affect Adult Health: Although more conclusive research needs to be performed in this regard, studies already exist which establish a link between bone health in later stages of life (osteoarthritis for example) and fetal movements (2).
Considering the benefits of fetal kicks, we wouldn’t blame you if you’d wish to stimulate these movements on your own! Here are 4 ways to ‘encourage’ your baby to kick when in the womb-
1. Lie Down
You can choose to lie down on your left or right side, whichever is comfortable. Stay in bed for 2 hours and try to feel your infant’s movements. Your baby will move several times when you’re lying down.
2. Drink Or Eat Anything
Anything that’s safe and permitted. Drinking or eating will wake up your baby and cause them to wiggle around. Besides that, it’ll also fuel your infant’s metabolism, leading to in utero activity.
3. Play Some Music
Just like a lullaby puts them to sleep, music can also wake your baby up and cause them to shimmy around to the beats in your womb! Any kind of music would do.
4. Breathe Deeply
Don’t get too caught up in trying to make your baby kick. The intensity and frequency of it for each mum are different, so relax and let it happen naturally. However, if you notice no movement at all, call your doctor immediately.
Are less frequent movements a cause of concern?
Babies can start moving in utero as early as at 13 weeks (3). However, mums don’t feel them at this stage, with the movements only being palpable at 16 to 25 weeks. These mild kicks can be reassuring that your baby is growing well. However, the intensity and frequency of the kicks drop around and after the 32nd week of pregnancy so there’s nothing to be alarmed at this stage.
That said, you should call your doctor if you notice the movements have reduced suddenly and drastically; if your baby sleeps in utero for more than 90 minutes and if you can’t feel any of them at all after 32 weeks (4). Ideally, you should feel them till you go into labor.
Pregnancy is one of the best moments in any parents’ life, so don’t panic at every small thing. Just enjoy the ride and be careful as you go so you can have a happy pregnancy and a healthy baby.