Feeling your baby move is one of the highlights of pregnancy. From the first little flutter onward, it's a physical reminder that a new little person is developing inside you. But when do you start feeling baby move? And what do baby kicks feel like? Read on to find out.
When can you feel your baby move?
Around 8 weeks, the fetus will start to move. At that point, though, they're only the size of a kidney bean, so you won't be able to feel those miniscule movements. Most moms-to-be feel their baby moving somewhere between the 16th and 22nd week of pregnancy.1 These first movements are called the quickening.
If you're on the slim side or you've already had a baby, you're more likely to feel movement on the earlier side of that range. Also, if your doctor informs you that you have an anterior placenta—which means your placenta is attached to the front wall of your uterus—it may take longer to feel your baby move.
What will it feel like when my baby moves, and when can you feel baby kick?
Those initial movements might feel like small flutters or gentle tumbles, and initially, they may be hard to register. Sometimes, it can be difficult to discern your baby's movements from gas but remember: gas passes. If you feel continued movement, that's probably your baby giving a little "hello."
Early on, it may be difficult to pick up on every one of your baby's movements. You're more likely to feel your baby move when you're resting. But as your baby grows inside you, they'll grow stronger, and ignoring them won't be an option. It won't be long until those soft little movements develop into full-on kicks and elbow jabs, typically closer to the third trimester. This is the point at which other people will be able to easily feel (and sometimes even see!) your baby move.
Why do babies kick so much at night?
Right when you're winding down for the evening, your baby is heading into party mode… and keeping you both awake. Recent research shows what moms-to-be have reported for decades: Fetuses move more in the later evening hours.2 Researchers don't fully understand why this is, but they believe that it may be related to blood sugar, and that fetuses have a circadian rhythm that involves nighttime "exercise."
Do I need to start counting kicks?
For most women, obstetricians recommend measuring fetal movement at home sometime in the third trimester. Tracking your baby's little punches and pushes can help you to stay aware of their movement and to recognize if they're moving less than normal. For some patients, doctors advise documenting movement through "kick counts," which are exactly what they sound like. Ask your obstetrician what's best for you and your baby—and in the meantime, enjoy bonding with your baby as they bounce around inside.
There's nothing quite like feeling your baby's first movements, and it's just one of many totally new experiences you'll have as a mother. For some wisdom from moms who've been down this path before you, check out this advice on what they'd tell their pregnant selves.