You’re pregnant! What an exciting time for you and your whole family. Whether this is your first pregnancy or your fifth, each experience is unique to the baby and mother, and learning to cherish every moment as you bond with your new little one in utero is so important.
One of the most significant milestones in any pregnancy is when you first feel your baby’s movements within the womb. It’s amazing to think about how miraculous their development is, and how you can provide safety and comfort for them until they’re ready to face the world.
When Will I First Feel My Baby Moving?
In general, the first time you’ll feel your baby moving is between 18 and 22 weeks. If you’re in the middle of your first pregnancy, it might take you awhile to realize that those delicate flutterings are your baby telling you that all is well, and when you do, it’s a breathtaking moment for any mom. Paying attention to your baby’s movements will comfort you to know that as your pregnancy progresses, your baby is growing healthier and stronger.
What’s My Baby Doing in There, Anyway?
Ultrasounds have given us marvelous insight into the development of the human fetus. Here are some typical movements you can expect to see at mile marker ultrasound appointments:
7-8 weeks— The baby begins making bending motions and starting or moving quickly in response to stimuli.
9 weeks— The baby can hiccup and begin moving arms and legs. He can suck and swallow.
10 weeks— The baby can bring his hands to his face, open and close his jaw and stretch.
14 weeks— The baby can follow things with his eyes.
15 weeks— The baby has chosen a thumb for sucking on his preferred hand, and the movement only accelerates from there.
As your baby continues to grow, you’ll notice periods of activity followed by periods of rest. All that growing is tiring business, and your baby is likely to need quiet time to continue to develop efficiently. Over time, you’ll come to recognize patterns in your baby’s movement pertaining to the time of day, foods you ingest and activities and stimuli going on outside the womb the baby can hear.
When Should I Be Concerned About Lack of Movement?
As you grow accustomed to your baby’s movement and quiet patterns, you will no doubt notice the triggers that cause him to move and those that cause him to settle down. Always trust your intuition on this one; if you feel a quiet period is lasting a little too long for your comfort, it’s best to check in with your ObGyn to determine whether what you’re experiencing is normal.
During a visit with your doctor, he or she will monitor and assess baby’s wake and sleep cycles. He’ll check oxygen levels, heart rate, and even your blood pressure to determine whether your womb is still the safest place for your baby. In cases where the environment has become compromised due to excess toxicity or preeclampsia, a condition where the mother experiences dangerously high blood pressure, the doctor will have to take more definitive action to make sure mother and baby remain safe and healthy.
What Do I Do If Movement Stops?
There may be different reasons for lack of movement. Your baby may just need a period of quiet time before all the acrobatic growing begins again. If you’re near the end of your pregnancy, there simply isn’t much room for the baby to stretch and kick as he used to, and he may be repositioning himself for the upcoming delivery. Another factor to consider is whether you’re eating and drinking enough to stimulate movement. Follow your doctor’s recommended nutrition and hydration plan for making sure you and your child are healthy.
However, there are times when movement stops altogether. If this lack of movement occurs for several hours, it’s time to seek medical attention. If cramping or bleeding accompanies a lack of movement, get to a hospital or emergency room as quickly as possible to determine whether the baby is in distress. The staff will monitor you for several hours to establish a baseline for the baby’s health and patterns of movement, so try to sit back and relax, knowing you’re in good hands, and trained personnel will do whatever is necessary to protect your and your child’s health.
While no pregnancy is completely stress-free, knowing what to expect from your baby, as well as what to do when his movement slows or stops, will give you peace of mind that your experience will be a wonderful one for both of you. Enjoy each moment and anticipate the wonderful life you’re going to share together as mother and child.
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