One of the most memorable parts of pregnancy is feeling your developing baby move inside of you. The sensation is reassurance that your baby is growing in strength and size. Are there ways to make your baby move in utero? What are “kick counts,” and why are they so important? And what should you do if your baby is not moving? We will try to answer these questions below.
Almost all pregnant people can feel their baby move in utero by 22 weeks.
Fetal movement, especially in the third trimester, assures the baby’s well-being.
It is possible to make your baby wiggle, twist, and move down purposely.
If you feel any decreased or no movement, contact your obstetric provider immediately.
When can you start to feel your baby move in utero?
Many pregnant people anxiously await feeling the baby’s first kicks in utero. Traditionally called “quickening,” the first fetal movements are typically felt between 16 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. The first movements felt can be described as fluttering or popping gas bubbles.
Those who have previously had children may feel fetal activity earlier, around 16 weeks, while first-time pregnant parents may not perceive movement until 20 to 22 weeks. Your healthcare provider, partner, family, or friends may be able to feel your baby move externally as early as 20 weeks gestation.
Sometimes, an anterior placenta or a placenta that is growing on the front uterine wall, may make it more challenging to feel fetal movements. Your provider can use an ultrasound to tell you where your placenta is.
The importance of counting kicks
Baby movements become vital during the third trimester, around 28 weeks of pregnancy. Fetal activity is not only a positive sign of pregnancy but a sign of fetal well-being. Additionally, getting to know your baby’s movements can enhance infant bonding.
Your healthcare provider may instruct you to perform daily “kick counts” in the third trimester, which involves monitoring fetal movements over a certain period. Kick counts are best performed around the same time each day after a meal. You can choose to lie down or not. A healthy baby should kick, move, or roll at least ten times within an hour.
If you do not feel five to ten movements within an hour, there are several tricks, described below, that you can try to get your baby to move. You should contact your obstetric provider if your baby is still not moving after trying some strategies and giving additional time.
Tricks to make your baby move in utero
It can be amusing to make your little one move inside of you. It may also be necessary at times to ensure their well-being. Here are a few tricks for getting your baby to move in utero:
- Have a meal or a snack. If your blood sugar is low, your baby may be more mellow than usual. A little bit of a sugar spike should get them moving.
- Enjoy a cold drink. The temperature of cold water or the sugar from juice could get your little one to start wiggling around.
- Gently jiggle or poke your belly. As your baby grows bigger in your womb, you may be able to identify where the baby’s back, butt, and feet are. Gentle nudging or jiggling may get them moving.
- Make some noise. A baby’s sense of hearing is well-developed by the third trimester. Talk, sing, or play music to get your little one moving.
- Exercise. Whether prolonged or short, physical movement could be enough to wake your baby up from a slumber.
- Try a foot massage. One study revealed that a 3-minute foot massage could increase fetal movement.
- Lie down to relax completely. Relaxing and lying down may make you more aware of fetal movements. Feel free to change positions.
How to get your baby to move down
As delivery approaches, your baby will descend into your pelvis, hopefully headfirst. An “engaged” position means that the widest part of your baby’s head is within your pelvis. You can encourage your baby’s descent and engagement by practicing upright and forward-leaning postures:
- Sit with your knees lower than your hips, using pillows for support
- Sit in a chair with your elbows resting on a table while leaning forward
- Kneel on the floor, using an ottoman or couch cushions to lean forward
- Performing exercises while on all fours. A good example is cat-cow stretches
There are also numerous strategies for getting a breech baby to turn head down.
Moving baby into a more comfortable position for you
Sometimes your baby may wander into a position that can feel very uncomfortable for you. Knees, toes, elbows, and hands can all find their way under your ribs or snuggled in the corner of your hip. Unfortunately, getting a stubborn baby to move may be difficult, especially as space becomes a challenge closer to delivery. But what can you try?
- Change sleep position. Consider sleeping on your side.
- Use a ball. Sit and rock on a birthing ball.
- Engage in light exercise. Your movement may encourage the baby to move into a different position.
- Seek chiropractic care. Make sure you speak with your obstetric provider before attending a chiropractor.
What to do if your baby is moving less or not at all
It is normal for developing babies to have sleep cycles and periods of inactivity. As babies grow and get closer to delivery, there is less space for them to make dramatic movements. Some parents are also more aware of fetal activity than others.
Your provider with likely perform additional monitoring. This surveillance can include a non-stress test which involves approximately 20 minutes of continuous fetal heart rate monitoring. Additionally, a biophysical profile may be necessary, which is an ultrasound that assesses fetal movement, breathing, tone, and amniotic fluid levels.
Babies spend a great deal of time moving while in your womb, though you may not always be able to perceive it. Once the third trimester rolls around, you must be aware of your little one’s movements and how to make them move if they seem quiet. Do not hesitate to contact your obstetric provider if you are concerned about your baby’s activity.
- StatPearls. Fetal movement.
- NHS Forth Valley. Antenatal advice for optimal fetal positioning.
- Developmental Psychobiology. Fetal activity following stimulation of the mother’s abdomen, feet, and hands.