Know your baby’s movements in pregnancy

When you’re expecting a baby, the feel of your baby’s first movements is not only exciting;  it also lets you know your baby is alive and well. Each baby is unique, so it is important to get to know your baby’s movements and patterns during your pregnancy.   If you think those movements have changed –  decreased in frequency or strength, or significantly increased (ie. Feels like baby is going “crazy”) –  alert your hospital, obstetrician or midwife. Do not wait until the next day.


When will baby move?

Your baby will be active your entire pregnancy, however you are most likely to start feeling baby move  between 16 and 22 weeks pregnant. In the beginning you might not feel movements often. Many describe the first sensations like a fluttering (butterflies in your tummy), swishing or rolling, or like little bubbles popping. As baby grows, the movements will start to become more obvious. Kicking, rolling movements, jabbing and even hiccups (small rhythmic twitches) are felt during the last trimester of your pregnancy. Your baby will still be moving even when you are in labour, although you may not notice these movements as much due to labour pains and tightening’s in your uterus.


How often should baby move?

From about 20-24 weeks you’ll notice movement more often, although if you’re busy or not paying close attention, these movements may be less obvious.  Speak to your  obstetrician or midwife if you have not felt movement by 24 weeks or as soon as you are concerned.

Pregnant women often report their baby/s is more active in the morning and/or evening, and they don’t notice movements as much during the day. Often when you’re awake and up and about, your baby is being rocked to sleep in the womb. Unborn babies tend to sleep for 20-40 minutes at a time (or occasionally up to 90 minutes) and don’t move much when asleep. You may notice baby’s movements more easily when lying down or resting and concentrating on them.


How much should baby move?

Nowadays, it is recommended you learn what your baby’s usual movements are like, rather than specifically counting kicks. Each baby is different, so it is important to get to know YOUR baby, rather than comparing to a previous baby or someone else’s baby.

Remember that you are the one who knows your baby’s movements the best. If you notice your baby is quiet at a time that they are usually active, please contact your maternity care provider as soon as possible, even if you have seen them about your baby’s movements previously, or had an appointment with them recently. ,


How do medical practitioners check if baby is ok?

If you report concerns about your baby’s movements, you will be referred to the Pregnancy Assessment Centre (PAC) at  Mater Mothers’ Hospital. A  midwife will ask you  questions about your pregnancy and your concerns about your baby’s movements. They  will likely do a CTG (cardiotocograph) which involves putting an elastic belt on your belly to record  your baby’s heart rate, and a blood test.  They may also ask to feel your belly to see where your baby is positioned and check baby’s growth.  Sometimes an ultrasound may be required to check baby’s growth and wellbeing.


Do healthy babies move less before labour?

There is not currently any research to suggest babies move less in the last few weeks before birth. All babies will be quiet or asleep for short periods of time in the womb. Before birth, babies will have similar sleep and wake cycles to those of a newborn.


This information is a guide for knowing and understanding more about your baby’s movements. Your Hatch Private Maternity obstetrician or midwife  will be able to provide more information and answer any questions you have.

Importantly, if you have concerns about your baby’s movements at any time day or night, please contact the PAC on 3163 8800 as soon as possible.

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