During your pregnancy, feeling your baby move gives you the reassurance of his or her wellbeing. Most women are first aware of their baby moving when they are around 18–20 weeks pregnant. However, if this is your first pregnancy, you may not become aware of movements until you are more than 20 weeks pregnant. If you have been pregnant before, you may feel movements as early as 16 weeks.
Pregnant women feel their unborn baby’s movements as a kick, flutter, swish or roll. As your baby develops, both the number and type of movements will change with your baby’s activity pattern. Usually, afternoon and evening periods are times of peak activity for your baby. During both day and night, your baby has sleep periods that mostly last between 20 and 40 minutes, and are rarely longer than 90 minutes. Your baby will usually not move during these sleep periods.
The number of movements tends to increase until 32 weeks of pregnancy and then stay about the same, although the type of movement may change too as you get nearer to your due date. Often, if you are busy, you may not notice all of these movements. Importantly, you should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour. Your baby should move during labour too. If you notice your baby is moving less than usual or if you have noticed a change in the pattern of movements, it may be the first sign that your baby is unwell and therefore it is essential that you contact your midwife or local maternity unit immediately so that your baby’s wellbeing can be assessed.