When Should You Be Worried About Fetal Movement?

Reviewed on 5/19/2021
fetal movement
During your third trimester, you should be able to feel about 10 fetal movements within 2 hours

Feeling your baby move for the first time can be thrilling. It’s a sign that there’s really life in there! 

During your third trimester, you should be able to feel about 10 fetal movements within 2 hours. But keep in mind that each baby is different, and paying attention to the patterns of your baby’s movements will help you notice if there’s a change in frequency.

When do fetal movements start?

You are most likely to experience them during your second trimester, particularly between weeks 16-22 of pregnancy

  • If this is your first pregnancy, you can experience these movements in the later part of this period, that is, between weeks 20-22. 
  • If you have had a previous pregnancy, you can feel your baby’s first movement as early as week 16. 

Early fetal movements may feel like flutters, poking or bubbles. Some women even mistake these sensations as gas or bloat.

Initially, you may feel your baby’s movements irregularly, at any time of the day. As your pregnancy progresses and your baby grows, the frequency of their movements increases.

How can you monitor your baby’s movements?

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), mothers should monitor their babies’ movements by counting their kicks.

Once you reach week 28, start checking how long it takes to feel 10 kicks. Ideally, you should sit with your feet up or lie on your left side while counting kicks.

To maintain a record of kick counts, use a diary or download a fetal monitor app on your smartphone that helps track movements.

How can you trigger your baby’s movements?

If you’re feeling a little nervous and want to prod your baby to see if they’re okay, you can try increasing movements by:

  • Eating or drinking something
  • Gently poking or pressing on your abdomen
  • Doing some light exercises like walking
  • Putting a flashlight over your abdomen
  • Talking to your baby
  • Playing some music

What causes your baby’s movements to decrease?

Decreased movement isn’t always a bad sign. However, potentially serious reasons that could cause your baby to stop moving as much may include: 

When should you call your doctor?

If you’re concerned that your baby’s kick count has decreased, don’t hesitate to call your doctor. Your doctor may ask you to come in for a non-stress test (NST) to monitor your baby’s heart rate, and they can intervene if there’s a risk of pregnancy or childbirth complications.

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References
Bryant J, Jamil RT, Thistle J. Fetal Movement. [Updated 2020 Nov 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470566/

Counting Baby Kicks. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/while-pregnant/counting-baby-kicks-71051/

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