Feeling your baby move for the first time is thrilling and something you are unlikely to forget. These first kicks may feel more like a flutter, swish or roll than an actual kick.
As your baby grows the movements will become more pronounced and are a reassuring reminder that your baby is alive and well.
As your baby grows, the number of movements will increase until around the 32nd week of pregnancy. From here until the end of pregnancy the amount he moves will remain the same, but the movements themselves may change and you may feel him jab you with his arms and legs, often under your ribs.
You should continue to feel your baby move right up until you are in labour.
As your baby develops you will begin to learn about his activity pattern. This means you will be able to notice when he is awake and active and when he is asleep. Babies usually sleep and are therefore inactive for periods that last between 20 and 40 minutes and rarely longer than 90 minutes.
You may find that there are particular periods each day when he is a lot more active than others. All these factors make up what is known as your baby’s activity pattern.
Counting your baby’s kicks alone won’t necessarily indicate whether there is a problem or not, which is why it is so important to be aware of all your baby’s activity. If your baby moves less than usual, or there is a change in the pattern of his movements, it could be the first sign that he is unwell.
If this happens, it is essential to contact your doctor or local maternity unit immediately so that you can get your baby checked to make sure that there isn’t a problem. Never worry about asking your doctor for advice about your pregnancy health and the wellbeing of your baby.
Make a note of the times of day when your baby is most active so that you can use this as a point of reference if you have any concerns. If you are busy you may not notice kicks and you may be unable to remember what movements you’ve felt. If this happens you need to take time out to concentrate on your baby’s movements to make sure all is well.
Babies’ movements don’t slow down or reduce towards the end of pregnancy, so if you are aware of a change in your baby’s movements you must make time to sit and concentrate on the pattern of his kicks.
If you notice any change, or if you just feel there is something wrong, it is really important to seek professional help immediately. Don’t ever go to sleep ignoring a reduction in movement, and don’t use personal hand held monitors (Doppler machines) or phone apps to check your baby’s movements. These are not reliable and could lead to your thinking that everything is fine when it isn’t.