How to monitor your baby’s movement during pregnancy – and why it’s important

Posted in Stages of Pregnancy.

One of the most exciting parts of pregnancy is feeling your baby kick for the first time. Not only is movement a sign that your baby is alive and well, it’s also something many women look forward to. A simple way to make sure your baby is thriving in utero is to monitor the kicks throughout pregnancy. 

When to expect movements to start

If this is your first pregnancy, you can expect to notice some movement by around 18 weeks, although it’s normal to not feel anything until 20 weeks. It can depend on how your baby is positioned and in which direction those little legs are kicking!

The first movement you notice might actually feel like a fluttering sensation in your womb, which is referred to as ‘quickening’. For women in their subsequent pregnancies, quickening might be noticed a few weeks earlier.

Kicks become stronger as your baby grows

To begin with, your baby’s movement may feel like a soft rolling or swishing sensation, but as he grows you can expect bona fide kicks that feel quite distinct.

Woman holding toddler and touching friend's pregnant belly

As your baby grows and becomes stronger, these kicks will become more frequent and you’ll notice them more often. You’ll probably also notice that your baby tends to move more at certain times of the day. It’s important to become aware of your baby’s kicking patterns so you can keep track of any changes.

How to track movements

Many women become familiar enough with their baby’s kicking patterns so that any changes are easily picked up by them. However, it can be difficult to stay on top of them if you’re really busy – but monitoring your baby’s kicks is important for ensuring that they remain healthy in utero.

If you notice any changes in your baby’s kicks, it’s important that you get in touch with your midwife or hospital as soon as possible so they can check your baby’s wellbeing.

The best way to track your baby’s movements is to pick a time each day when your baby is active – preferably around the same time each day. Then you simply start a timer and record how long it takes for you to feel 10 kicks. Comparing the time with your previous counting sessions can highlight any changes in your baby’s rate of movement. If you notice a significant change in the rate of movements, it’s important to see your medical practitioner, such as a GP, midwife or obstetrician, for a professional checkup.

It’s important to Count the Kicks

Monitoring your baby’s movements, particularly in the third trimester, is especially important in reducing the risks of stillbirth. In Australia about six stillborn babies are born every day, or around 2,000 a year. Monitoring your baby’s movements with an app like Count The Kicks can help you keep track. Janet Petersen, the creator of Count the Kicks believes her app is helping hundreds of women save the lives of their babies.

Speaking to Good Morning America, American mum Emily Eekhoff credits the app for saving her baby’s life. In her third trimester, she noted a sudden decrease in her baby’s movement, which she had been tracking using Count The Kicks. Worried for her baby, Emily rushed to hospital, where doctors discovered that the umbilical cord had wrapped around the baby, restricting her movement. After an emergency c-section, Emily’s healthy baby girl was delivered safely.

Midwives are there for you

Whether you are using an app or mentally noting your baby’s regular movement, it’s essential that you report any changes to your GP or birthing hospital as soon as possible – don’t sleep on it or discount your concerns. Midwives are ready to take your call: they will not think you’re worrying too much or wasting their time. They’re there to help you, so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone – in fact, they love meeting mums-to-be, and checking the wellbeing of your baby.

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