Baby, You Move Me
Is That Baby Or Is It Gas?
Perhaps one of the most exciting moments in pregnancy is the first time you feel your baby's movement. If you are a first-time mother, you may not be able to really discern that it is the baby and not gas. Soon a pattern of movement will be noticeable and you will be able to determine your baby's waking hours and sleeping time. Some mothers, especially first-time mothers, don't actually feel their baby's movements until 18 to 20 weeks. However, women who have had children can often determine movement as early as 13 to 16 weeks from their last period.
What Makes Baby Move?
As your baby continues to grow and develop, s/he will stretch and flex her/his limbs. The further you get into your pregnancy, the stronger these movements become and before long you may feel as though your inside is a punching bag as your baby kicks, punches, and rolls around. External noise, such as a loud bang, may cause baby to jump. Music and your voice also may elicit movement or stillness. If you are in a position that is uncomfortable for baby, s/he may begin to squirm and s/he may even react to certain foods you eat.
At first the kicks will be few and far between. You may have one day filled with action and nothing the next day. Even though your baby is moving and kicking regularly, since s/he is so tiny, you won't feel all of the movement. As s/he grows and takes up more space, and becomes stronger, then the movements will be more intense. By the time the second trimester rolls around, you will be feeling baby frequently and strongly. Every baby has her/his own pattern of movement, sleep and awake times, and strength. It is individual and specific to your child, so don't compare your experience with other mothers' experiences. There is no "one correct style" of movement and as long as your baby's usual activity doesn't change very much, then s/he is likely doing just fine.
Keeping Track Of Movement
As your pregnancy progresses and you become familiar with your baby's movements, it is a good idea to keep track of the kicking and movement. Sometime in the third trimester you may notice more action and vigor in the baby's movements and often a definite pattern develops. After about 32 weeks, things may slow down a bit because baby is running out of room to move around.
How Often Should Baby Move?
Starting at around the 28 week mark, your practitioner may suggest that you count kicks. You will receive instruction on how to do this most beneficially. Not only does this practice help you identify any potential problems, it is also a great time for bonding with your baby. One common method of counting kicks is to choose a time of day when you know your baby is quite active. By now, baby is in a rhythm of sorts, so you should be able to do this around the same time every day. Either sit quietly or lie on your side to avoid distraction and time how long it takes you to feel ten movements that are distinct. They may be kicks, twitches, rolls, or punches. If you don't feel ten movements in two hours, contact your healthcare provider.
Less movement can be a signal that there may be a problem. You may need a non-stress test or biophysical profile to check on the baby's situation.