Feeling the Baby Move

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When I was pregnant with my first baby, I didn’t put too much thought about what it would feel like one day when the baby moved. I had heard very pregnant women commenting about their babies kicking, but it seemed they were often complaining … like “gosh, that baby kicked all night and I could not get any sleep.” I knew at some point in the pregnancy that I would monitor the number of fetal kicks to ensure the baby was developing well, but beyond that, I didn’t think much about feeling the baby move.


The baby books all say that you may feel the baby move around 20 weeks – this is called quickening. At the 12-week mark, I went for an ultrasound and saw the baby on the screen moving all around – looking like a little gymnast flipping around – but I felt nothing.


Then one morning, as I rested, just thinking about the joy of having a baby, I felt something. It was a feeling that I had never felt before. It wasn’t gas, it wasn’t a hunger pang, it wasn’t my appendix bursting; there was a fetal something-another going on in there. I was exactly five months along, right at that magic 20-week mark. Going forward it was game on. I anxiously awaited for that next movement. They came, left jabs, foot to the tummy, bouncing on my sciatic nerve, shifting to the left, shifting to the right, on and on.


If you are pregnant, and more than 20 weeks along with no action happening from the little one, don’t worry. The range of normal dates for feeling fetal movements is very wide, and can be affected by placenta placement in the womb and the weight of the new mom. If you are concerned that you haven’t felt your baby kick, be sure to mention it to your medical team.


Once I reached about seven months, I could visibly see my tummy move, just subtle movements, but occasionally my family could see my shirt move a little. At this point, I started monitoring fetal kicks. Each care provider may have a slight variation in monitoring directions, but here is the general idea:


Notice when your baby is most active. For many, it’s typically around the time they go to bed. Have a piece of paper and pencil and get ready to make tally marks. Note the date and time on your paper. For every movement, place a tally mark. Once you tally 10 movements – note the time lapse.


Generally within 45 minutes, you will have 10 marks, but the medical community is not generally concerned unless it takes more than two hours to get 10 tallies.


If half an hour has elapsed and you are not to 10 yet, try the following:


Do some pelvic tilts or walk around


Drink some juice and lie on your left side


By nine months, most moms notice a reduction in movement. This is because the baby is bigger and there isn’t enough room for he or she to get up the momentum needed for a good kick.


I came to really enjoy feeling the baby move. It was a sweet reminder that I had a real live human being in there that was counting on me to nurture it to the finish line. In fact, after delivering our precious destined-to-be-a-gymnast baby, I actually missed feeling the baby move.


Stephanie Keel is a Charlotte mom of two who thrives on work-life enrichment. She is employed full-time, serves on the planning board of Charlotte’s All About Baby (www.allaboutbaby.com) network, and also operates Sweet Pea Baby Planners of Charlotte (www.sweetpeababyplanners.com).