When you are you are in the early weeks of pregnancy and anticipating your baby's first kick, it's easy to confuse gas bubbles and nauseous flutters with your little one moving around. Ask a friend, "What should my baby's kicks feel like?" and they will have any number of descriptions ranging from a butterfly to "am-a-a-a-zing." But the truth is, experts say there is not one way to describe a baby kick.
"There is no 'should be' in terms of what kicks should feel like," Dr. Jaime Knopman, co-founder of TrulyMD, and director at New York's Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, tells Romper. "While most women — at least initially — report feeling flutters, the way movement feels can change as the pregnancy progresses and your baby gets bigger and stronger."
Dr. Sunny Jun, an OB-GYN and the co-founder and co-medical director of the San Francisco branch of The Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, explains to Romper that quickening, or baby's first movements, can happen anytime between 16 and 22 weeks. "First time moms may not feel these movements early on," she says. "They may notice flutters, intestinal movement, or gas sensations in the beginning, but later realize that they were fetal movements." On the other hand, she says, moms who have had multiple pregnancies tend to notice these movements much earlier in subsequent pregnancies.
"Later in gestation, movements may feel like kicks, jabs and unsullied movements from limbs," Jun says. Ask any mom who has ever had an elbow to the ribs and she won't disagree with that.
But moms shouldn't immediately rush to concern if they don't feel movement in the early weeks of pregnancy, Dr. Allison Hill, a board-certified OB-GYN and author of Your Pregnancy, Your Way, tells Romper in an email interview. "Because of the surrounding amniotic fluid and the thick uterine wall muscle, most women don’t feel movement until 16 to 20 weeks," she says. "If a baby isn’t moving, it could be due to inadequate oxygen, but, more likely, it is related to the mother’s perception of movement."
Hill says reasons for feeling less movement include: you are sitting or standing instead of lying down, being distracted, low amniotic fluid, or the fetus being positioned with its arms and legs toward your back. If you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, then decreased movement might also be the result of your growing baby running out of room inside the uterus, says Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Your baby might also just be sleeping.
"If you notice less movement during the day, you should drink a large glass of juice or high-sugar drink equivalent and lay on your left side in a comfortable and quiet location," Ross, who is also the author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period, tells Romper in an email interview. "There is a good chance the baby will move with a sugar and hydration boost."
If you sense a change in fetal movement, then you might also try monitoring fetal kick counts, says Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, a Mississippi-based board-certified OB-GYN. Richardson tells Romper that you should go to a quiet location and lie on your left side. Place your hand on your abdomen and focus on the baby's movement. "If you have 10 kicks in less than two hours, you can resume previous activities."
Of course, like Ross, Richardson says if your baby doesn't move within that two-hour period, then you should contact your healthcare provider.
One thing is for sure: No two kicks are alike. Some women claim it was "the most incredible thing ever," while others say it felt like "there was an alien inside of me." But one thing they all agree on is that you'll know that first kick when you feel it.
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