Feeling your little one kick, wriggle and twist is one of the most exciting hallmarks of your pregnancy. While it beats the heartburn and morning sickness, your baby’s movements can also invite a whole bundle of new questions like, what should it feel like? And how often should my baby be kicking? Here’s what you should know about these tiny (albeit thrilling!) new sensations.

When will I feel my baby moving?

Don’t expect to feel your little one move around until the second trimester. The first three months of your pregnancy are a stage of vital growth and development, but your baby is still too tiny and buried too deeply within the protective cushioning of your womb to make any sudden moves.

Most parents-to-be feel their baby’s first movements, often called ‘quickening’, at around weeks 18-22, though it’s not uncommon to get a sample of that squirmy behaviour earlier or later. Every baby is unique, so your little one might just kick on their own clock anywhere between weeks 16 and 24.

What will my baby’s movement feel like?

The type of sensations you experience will depend on your little one’s stage of development. Initially, you might feel a fluttering, butterfly-like movement in your belly. Some also experience what feels like swishing, twitching, tumbling, rolling or ever-so-slight kicking. As your pregnancy progresses, these sensations will become more distinct and frequent.

When those tiny muscles develop and your little one grows stronger, those adorable, butterfly-like boots to the belly may gradually start to resemble jabbing, kicking or elbowing. Towards the end of your pregnancy, kicks to the ribs might cause discomfort. A gentle nudge or a shift in position may bring some relief.

By month nine, there is less space to kick and squirm, so the type of movements you notice will change, usually becoming more forceful and pressing. Those rapid-fire kicks might turn into larger lurches as your baby turns over, for example.

How often should I feel my baby move?

After weeks 20-24, it’ll be easier to feel your baby’s movements. Keep in mind that if you’re busy, moving around or not paying attention, you might not always notice your little one moving about in there.

Your baby will kick to the beat of their own drum, but you might notice patterns in their movement. Babies tend to wriggle at specific times of the day, such as when you’re resting, sleeping or after you’ve settled down for the night. While their timing seems questionable, their kicking schedule will also depend on their sleep cycle and will naturally be more noticeable when you’re relaxing.

What should I look out for?

While these sensations will grow and change with each stage, your baby should move up until the day of delivery. However, if you haven’t felt your little one wriggle or twitch after 24 weeks or you think their movement has decreased in number or strength, contact your midwife or doctor immediately.

Remember that every baby is different, so it’s just as normal for their movements to be unpredictable as it is for them to be easy to track. Just like they might in adolescence, your little one will make appearances on their own time!

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