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Your baby’s movements during pregnancy

Pregnancy Dr Erin Nesbitt-Hawes Director
Feeling your baby move is reassuring. Your baby lets you know he or she is fine. Getting to know your own baby’s movement pattern is important as a reduction in movements may mean your baby is not well.

Most women will feel their baby move between 18 and 20 weeks of gestation, depending on whether it’s their first baby and where the placenta is located.  First movements are frequently described as “flutters” or a “swish”.  As your baby grows and matures it develops a sleep and awake pattern and movements tend to increase in frequency until 32 weeks of gestation.  Baby’s sleep cycle last 90 minutes at the most.

It’s reassuring to feel your baby move, it tells you your baby is fine.  If you have noticed your baby is moving less than usual or there is a change in the pattern of movements this may be a sign that your baby is unwell.  It is important that the wellbeing of your baby is assessed so contact your Obstetrician or local maternity unit for assessment and guidance depending on your gestation.

It is not known how many movements are “normal”, therefore it is important that you get to know your baby’s movement and any reduction from your baby’s movements is abnormal.  There are many factors interfering with the perception of your baby’s movements – e.g. being busy at work, an “anterior” placenta, or baby’s position within your womb.  Some medication can also interfere with baby’s movements.

We do not recommend to routinely record baby’s movements.  If you are unsure about your baby’s movements, we would recommend you empty your bladder and lie down on you left side and monitor your baby’s movement for 2 hours.  If you do not get 10 or more movements you need to contact your local maternity unit for assessment and guidance specific to your gestation.

In general, the care you will be given will depend on your gestation.  We will always take your concerns seriously and never hesitate to seek help or advice again, no matter how many times this happens.