Baby's movements

When should I start to feel movements?

Most women will be aware of baby’s movements by about 20 weeks, although this may occur earlier with a second or subsequent baby. You may still have quiet days up until about 26 weeks of pregnancy.

What do movements feel like?

Movements may feel like kicks, stretches, pushes or sometimes you may be aware of hiccoughs. Movements are related to development of the baby’s muscles and nervous system and are a positive sign. Each baby has their own pattern of movement and it is important for you to become familiar with what is normal for your baby rather than comparing with a previous pregnancy or someone else's baby.

During the last few weeks of the pregnancy the movements may feel different due to less space in your uterus, but you should continue to feel movements right up to and during labour.

Your midwife or doctor will ask you about your baby’s movement patterns at each clinic visit and will strongly recommend that you contact the hospital if you have any concerns about a change in pattern or frequency of your baby’s movements.

How often is normal?

After 28 weeks, women should feel scattered episodes of movements all through the day and night. Babies will sleep for up to one hour but rarely longer than one and a half hours.

You may perceive less movements if:

  • Your placenta is situated at the front of your uterus
  • You are overweight
  • You have been very busy
  • You are taking sedative medications, steroids, alcohol or other drugs

What should you do if your baby has not moved as much as normal?

If you think that your baby’s normal pattern of movements has changed or reduced or you have not felt any movements:

  • Sit down and relax for about half an hour and focus on your baby
  • Gently touch your abdomen to see if the baby moves

If you still have concerns, don’t delay – contact the hospital or your nominated midwife.

What will happen when you call?

The midwife will ask you questions about your pregnancy progress and your baby’s normal movement patterns.

You may be invited to come to the hospital for a check-up and to listen to your baby’s heartbeat. The midwife may also recommend that you have monitoring of the baby’s heart rate which is carried out at the hospital.

In most situations this will provide reassurance that all is well. Most women will be able to go home within 1-2 hours. If further checks are recommended (such as an ultrasound) this will be discussed with you before you go home. It is important that you continue to monitor your baby’s movements every day after this.

If you have further concerns

If you have concerns with your baby’s movement pattern again, even the next day after you have had a check-up, do exactly the same, focus on your baby and if you still have concerns contact the hospital again.

Don’t sit at home worrying. The hospital is open 24hrs every day.