Feeling your baby move

You can usually start to feel your baby move around 16-20 weeks of pregnancy. In the beginning these movements are very subtle but as the pregnancy continues, these movements become much more noticeable and you will discover a pattern in the movements of your baby. 

It is important to feel the baby move the way you are used to. 

If the baby starts to move less, it can be a sign that the function of the placenta is decreasing and therefore the condition of the baby can deteriorate. Its important to call the midwife if this happens.

Normal movement patterns:

  • The first movements start around week 16-20 and are described as “ bells, bubbles or small plops” 
  • At 28 weeks of pregnancy the movements in your belly will become stronger and stronger. The baby develops a pattern of being asleep or awake. From this term onwards its important to feel daily movements. 
  • When a baby sleeps they do not (or hardly) move.
  • Most babies move in the afternoon and evening. 

What can influence the movement and the feeling?

  • Location of the placenta: If the placenta is located at the front of the uterus, it’s possible that you will not feel any movements until 28 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Position: When you are laying down it is easier to feel the movements of the baby. If you are working you might experience less movement than you are used to, this is because your attention is focused elsewhere at that time. 
  • Note that the strength of the movements can become less during the end of the pregnancy. This is because the baby has less room in the uterus to move and the movements become more subtle like a sliding motion instead of a kick. 
  • Medication, alcohol, smoking: Painkillers with morfine or sedatives, smoking and drinking alcohol can influence the movements of your baby.

What do I do if my baby is moving differently, less or not at all?

  • Up to 24 weeks:
    Not all women already feel life in their belly every day. This is normal. If you are concerned about it, call the midwife and we can make an appointment to listen to the heartbeat of the baby to make you feel more at ease. 
  • At 24-28  weeks:
    In this period the pattern of the movements of your baby is still very different every day. If you are concerned about it, call the midwife and we can make an appointment to listen to the heartbeat of the baby to make you feel more at ease. 
  • >28 weeks:
    You should be able to feel the baby regularly every day. If your baby is moving less than usual, take your time to feel the movements in your belly and try to focus on it. The optimal position to feel the baby is on your left side, because of the blood flow of the placenta. Please follow the instructions below:
  • Lie on your left side for two hours and focus on the movements of the baby. 
  • Do you feel less than 10 movements during these two hours or you are worried? Please call the midwife. Don’t wait until the next day. 

The midwife will check for the heartbeat of the baby and might send you to the hospital for a thorough check of the condition of the baby. 

In the hospital they will make a CTG, where they monitor the heartbeat of the baby for at least 30 minutes, and they make an ultrasound to check the function of the placenta. 

If the results are positive; your baby is in good condition and you can go home again. If the results are negative; extra check-ups will be required. 

(bron: de verloskundige.nl)