There’s something almost magical about feeling those first, fluttering movements of your baby in the womb. Later on, those delicate twitches can turn into painful kicks and jabs. Although so much activity might be frustrating to you — especially late at night, when you are trying to sleep — your baby’s movements are actually very healthy and a normal part of his development.
Babies start moving around in the womb at a very early age. In fact, by the time you are eight weeks pregnant, your baby is moving, according to Sutter Health. Because your baby is only an inch long at that point, you won’t feel any movements. Most pregnant women don’t feel the baby move until sometime after the 16th week of pregnancy. This moment is called the “quickening,” and it is often emotional for the mother-to-be.
By the eighth month of pregnancy, your skin is stretched so tightly that your baby’s movements can often be seen by others. As your baby puts on weight in the form of fat and space becomes tight during the last two months of pregnancy, movements sometimes become more subdued and less frequent.
Your baby’s movements aren’t just for fun or exercise. As your baby moves, she sends signals to her brain that contain vital information for the proper development of her body, according to Rutgers University.
Your baby moves around 50 times an hour, according to “Psychology Today.” These are not always large movements. While it’s true that babies often turn somersaults in the womb (usually during the second trimester, when there’s enough room), they also move in more subtle ways. Babies stretch, flex their fingers, touch their bodies, put their feet on their umbilical cord, yawn, hiccup, turn over, curl up and, yes, kick vigorously.
There’s an old wives’ tale that states that if your baby is very active in the womb, he will be an active child. Parents of wiggly babies may be hoping for a future athlete. In the meantime, they should prepare for some sleepless nights. This is because fetuses that are very active in utero are usually fussy, irritable infants, according to “Psychology Today.”
It is important to monitor fetal movements during the last trimester. A decrease in movements can signal that the baby is in distress. Pregnant women should take the time each day to monitor their baby’s movements. Count how many movements your baby makes in an hour. Do this twice a day. On average, you should feel about 10 movements. If you don’t, try eat some fruit or juice, lie down, and count again. If it takes more than two hours to reach 10 movements, call your doctor. Also call your doctor if you notice a sudden decrease in fetal movement.