Feeling Your Baby Move in Pregnancy

Quickening

Happy pregnant woman and husband
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Bubbles. Butterflies. Gas. These are all words used to describe what a baby's first movements feel like to a mother.

Quickening is defined as the first time you feel your baby move. This is a long-anticipated event in every pregnancy.

If you are expecting your first baby you can expect to feel your baby for the first time between 18 and 24 weeks gestation. If this is not your first baby you can expect to feel your baby a bit sooner than you felt your first.

This is usually said to happen because you know what you're feeling for and your uterus is more stretched out than it was the first time around.

Even when you've been there before many women describe these first movements as differently as night and day:​

  • "I am an extremely ticklish person, so much so that I've been known to jump straight out of bed from a dead sleep if my husband were to brush against my feet. I found that I'm very ticklish on the inside too. There was more than one inappropriate time with my pregnancies to Briana (8) and Georgianna (3) that I burst out laughing because I could no longer control the tickling feeling."
    Denise
  • "I didn't feel my babies move at all until I was 20 weeks. The doctors said that the four placentas were probably cushioning their little kicks so I couldn't feel them. But then, on my birthday, I felt a little poke poke poke that I knew was definitely my babies moving. It felt almost like popcorn popping! I was spending my birthday in the hospital without my husband or family so I was feeling a little sad and lonely. Feeling my babies moving was the sweetest feeling! It was the best birthday present ever. It made me realize that I WAS spending my birthday with my family."
    Marianne Jornlin, mommy to quadruplets: Emma, John, Rebecca, and Sarah
  • "We were sitting there on the couch. I felt something and I looked around, no one else seemed to be aware of it. Then I realized it must have been the baby. It was a nice little secret to keep for the few weeks only I could feel him flutter about."
    Amanda, mother to Pierce 3 years old
  • "The Mexican food. That's what I thought. Then I realized that I wasn't passing gas, just feeling bubbles."
    Mom to 7-year-old Max

    There may be reasons that you are not feeling movement as early as you are expecting to feel it. Many of these are normal occurrences, including:

    When Others Can Feel Movement

    The second big milestone is when others can also feel the baby move. Your partner might be surprised by a quick thump here or there, after many weeks of patiently (or impatiently) waiting. A sibling might get a quick bump on the cheek or hand and be very excited about the reality of the new baby.

    Fetal Kick Counts

    After the joy of feeling these first movements happens fear sets in. Is your baby moving too much? Not enough? Medical studies have found that by doing fetal kick counts after the 28th week of pregnancy is actually one of the better predictors of fetal well-being.

    It has not been found that an active fetus will be a hyperactive child. Nor can you predict gender by fetal movements.

    Towards the end of pregnancy, the movements may actually become uncomfortable or even painful.

    Babies have been known to kick mom in the (fill in the organ of your choice). Typically helping baby shift position by doing some pelvic tilts will help alleviate this discomfort.

    When you're in labor and working hard and anticipating those first cries, remember to take a moment and feel those last movements of the baby inside your body. Believe it or not, you will miss them!

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