Get ready for one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy -- feeling your baby move for the first time. Many women can't quite believe they're pregnant until the baby moves, even if they've heard a heartbeat or seen the baby on ultrasound. Your baby's movement is the reward for everything you've gone through so far.
Ordinarily women start to feel their babies move at about 20 weeks, although this varies. You may feel it as early as 16 weeks or as late as 23 weeks. If you've had a baby before, you're likely to notice the movement earlier because it's already a familiar sensation that you've experienced in a previous pregnancy.
At first the movement feels like a flutter. Then over the next couple of weeks, the faint flutter turns into stronger movements. At 20 weeks you may wonder if that funny feeling is the baby moving; by about 25 weeks you?ll have no doubt that there's a living being inside you. By 30 weeks you'll become convinced that your baby has learned how to do somersaults. If you look down at your belly later in your pregnancy, you'll actually see your baby moving.
Your baby has been on the move since you were 6 weeks pregnant, but you didn't feel it because the baby was so small. By about 20 weeks, a baby is large enough to make itself felt to you.
If you're not noticing any fetal movement, it might be because you're not paying close enough attention. At first the feelings really are subtle. Take a few time-outs during the day to sit still in a quiet place and focus on what you feel. Sometimes it takes real concentration to feel the movement.
If you don't feel your baby moving by 22 or 23 weeks, call your doctor. A quick fetal heart check using your doctor's Doppler will be reassuring. You may simply have a mellow baby. Also the location of the placenta makes a difference. If the placenta is in front of the uterus, your baby's movements may be less noticeable. Weight plays a role too: Slender women usually feel fetal motion earlier than overweight women.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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