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Foetal movements in pregnancy

Sunday, May 28th 2017. | Pregnancy


The first kick of a baby that a newly pregnant woman feels in her abdomen is one of the most exciting moments of her pregnancy. Babies start moving in the womb as early as from six to eight weeks of gestation. However, the mother does not feel the feel the baby move for several more weeks, till the baby grows big enough to give a noticeable kick.Feel Baby

Most women start feeling the baby’s movements between 16 to 22 weeks of pregnancy. In women who have been pregnant earlier the movements may be noticed sooner, say around even the 13th week, because of familiarity with the movements.

In a first time mother however, the recognition of a movement comes later, closer to 22 weeks of gestation. Even though baby is already moving around quite a bit, the mother may not feel these movements. Even if she does she probably feels it like a soft fluttering or bubbling sensation or a very slight shifting movement, a bit like indigestion. Later on, the movements become unmistakeable and the mother can even see the baby kicking about.

The movement of a baby within the womb is an important indicator of the baby’s health. If a baby has not shown any movements by 22 weeks the pregnancy may need to be examined.

How often should the mother feel the baby move? In the beginning of the pregnancy, the movements of the baby are erratic and irregular. There may be long stretches of time without any noticeable movement from the baby. Around the beginning of the third trimester however, the baby’s movements become more regular and the mother will be advised to be on the lookout for a decrease or change in the pattern of movement. In normal pregnancies a baby moves at least 10 times over a 12-hour period.

Movements decrease when the baby is asleep inside the womb. However, if there is any sudden change in the movements, or decrease of movements the doctor must be consulted.

If the pregnancy is less than 24 weeks and no movement of the baby has occurred at all the doctor will check for the baby’s heartbeat. An ultrasound scan will also be required to check on the baby’s wellbeing, and to see whether the pregnancy us still viable.

If the pregnancy is between 24 weeks and 28 weeks pregnant, and the baby’s movements have changed, the mother will have to undergo a full check-up, including blood pressure and urine testing to rule out pre-eclampsia. The baby will also be checked for heart rate and growth.Ultrasound Scan


If the pregnant abdomen measures smaller than expected for the baby’s dates, the mother will have to undergo an ultrasound scan to check that there is no oligo-hydramnios ( less amniotic fluid build up) and that the baby is developing normally.

If the pregnancy is more than 28 weeks and there is a decrease in movement, a complete maternal check up as well as continuous monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat for at least 20 minutes will be required.

A decrease in the movements of the baby can be a sign that the placenta is not transferring oxygen and nutrients to the baby as efficiently as it was in the past. This could lead to poor growth of the baby or even stillbirth. That is why doctors give so much importance to a decrease in movement of the baby.Check Up

If, these checks indicate that the baby is well, the mother can go back home reassured.

Closer to delivery, the baby’s movements are the best indicators that all is progressing well. It’s normal to feel a change in movements as the due date approaches. This is because the baby has less room to move around in the womb. However, the mother should continue to feel frequent and regular movements. If the baby is moving around less often than usual, it may be a sign that it is becoming distressed.


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