As your baby develops and grows inside you, they start to stretch and flex their little arms, legs–sometimes as punches, kicks, or just rolling around. This is known as “quickening” perhaps because the movements quicken as your baby grows, it can happen suddenly, or sometimes in response to noises or your emotions.
How early should you start to feel your baby move?
Every baby and every mom are different; some moms can feel their baby move as early as 13-16 weeks from the start of their last period, others may not feel movement until 18-25 weeks. First-time moms tend not to feel quickening as early.
As a general rule, it’s good to start counting your baby’s movements in the third trimester, or around week 28 of pregnancy. This can help you provide your doctor with a good sense of how your baby is doing and identify any potential developmental concerns, and it’s also a great way to bond with your baby! You can also get your baby’s siblings and other family members involved by helping you count the kicks.
Physical sensations of quickening
Quickening is often described as a subtle sensation, like the gentle flutter of a butterfly's wings. You may also experience:
- Tapping or twitching sensations, sometimes described as feeling like bubbles or gas
- Fluttering or gentle, rhythmic movements in the lower abdomen
- A sensation of popcorn popping or tiny kicks
- Soft, subtle movements that may be mistaken for muscle twitches
- A feeling of fullness or pressure in the lower abdomen
- The sensation of a gentle rolling or swaying movement inside the womb
Factors affecting the timing of quickening
The timing of quickening can vary from one expectant mother to another. Factors such as time, body shape and size, and the energy of your baby can all affect how and when you feel quickening.
- How far you are into your pregnancy: Quickening typically occurs in the third trimester, around 28 weeks of pregnancy, but this can vary from person to person, and be different during each pregnancy.
- Location of the placenta: The position of the placenta in the uterus can affect when and how strongly you feel fetal movements. An anterior placenta (located in front of the baby) may cushion or dampen sensations.
- Number of pregnancies: Women who have been pregnant before may recognize quickening earlier than first-time mothers if they are more attuned to the sensations.
- Body weight: Heavier individuals may feel quickening later in pregnancy.
- Fetal position: The position of the baby in the womb can influence when and where quickening is felt. A baby's movements may be less noticeable if they are facing the back or positioned toward the spine.
- Your activity and awareness: A pregnant person's daily activities and level of awareness can affect their perception of fetal movement. Resting or lying still may make movements more apparent.
Quickening vs. other fetal movements
Quickening is a form of fetal movement, but not all fetal movements are quickening. This chart can help you get a sense of how to differentiate them, but if you’re ever not sure what you’re experiencing, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor.
Other Fetal Movements
|What Is It?
|The magical moment when you first feel those baby movements. It's like little butterflies in your belly!
|Any and all kicks, wiggles, and rolls your baby does during pregnancy.
|When to Expect
|Usually shows up in the second trimester, around weeks 16 to 25.
|These baby movements keep going from the second trimester right through the third!
|How It Feels
|It's those gentle, delicate flutters or tiny pokes in your lower belly.
|Anything from soft kicks to bigger stretches; you'll get to know all your baby's moves, and these can be stronger and more responsive in nature.
|Why It's Special
|It's that memorable moment when you know your little one is in there, saying hello!
|Your baby is communicating with you! More than just saying hello, these might be responses to things that your baby can hear, food you're eating, or just excitement to see the world!
Baby kicking vs moving in general
As your baby grows, their movements generally become stronger. That said, it’s normal to experience periods of quiet stretches, other times where your baby is very active, times where your baby does more kicking, and times where your baby does more rolling.
It’s hard to know exactly what your baby is communicating with each and every kick or movement. Many moms say they just enjoy the ride and the special time they’re having to bond with their baby in ways that nobody else can.
Quickening in multiple pregnancies
Generally speaking, the more experience someone has with pregnancies, the more they will be attuned to the different types of movements and feelings. That said, every person, every baby, and even every pregnancy can be different. You may find that each pregnancy provides a unique bonding experience with each of your unique children!
When to seek medical assistance
Sometimes, changes in your baby's movements may signal a need for medical attention. If you've been monitoring your baby's movements and notice a pattern of less movement, or sudden halt in movement, don't hesitate to get in touch with your healthcare provider. A lot of times it can help just to have your doctor’s reassurance, even if there ends up being nothing to worry about!
How often your baby should move
Regular movement from your baby is a reassuring sign of their well-being. As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to notice about 10 movements every two hours, but also keep in mind that there are times where your baby could be resting. If you’re ever concerned about lack of movement, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
Support throughout your pregnancy with Enfamil Family Beginnings®
If you’re expecting, Enfamil Family Beginnings® can be a great guide in your pregnancy journey and for when you welcome your newborn into the world! Enjoy expert advice, samples, discounts, and a supportive community—all designed to make your journey into motherhood easier and more enjoyable. Sign up today for a great start to your new family adventure!