baby movements

Counting Kicks

One quote midwives hear from these pages (or well-meaning friends and family) is: “once your baby is bigger and almost ready to come out, they don’t move as much.” This belief is WRONG. If you are concerned about your baby’s movements, it is essential to call your maternity unit, midwife or doctor.

When will I feel my baby’s movements?

Most women will begin to feel movements between 16-24 weeks gestation. Women with their first pregnancy may feel it at the later end of this time frame, as will women with their placenta at the front). Movements often feel like fluttering or bubbling when they first begin, progressing to kicks, swishes and rolls as pregnancy advances.

How much should my baby move?

For each pregnancy, movement is different, and there, unfortunately, is no set amount of movements that you should expect. However, movements should increase from the time you first feel them until about 32 weeks. After this point, you should expect your baby to move the same amount until they are born (36). While there is no set expectation of movement for each pregnancy, it is essential to get to know what is normal for your baby.

What about counting ten movements? Or drinking something sweet?

Your baby could move anywhere from 4 times to over 100 in one hour, and that is why the most recent evidence recommends against the ‘count ten’ in a certain period as has traditionally been recommended. Instead, it is now recommended you know what is normal for YOUR baby and report ANYTHING different from this. It was also once recommended that you drink or eat certain things to prompt your baby to move. This practice is also no longer recommended, because large volumes of fluid or food may cause indigestion or gurgling. These feelings may provide false security and disguise baby’s true movements (36).

Why are movements so important?

Research has found that two out of three mothers of stillborn babies reported noticing a reduction in their baby’s movements leading up to their passing. Additionally, a lack of adequate or prompt management is a significant factor in stillbirth. Your baby’s movements are VERY IMPORTANT; a reduction in his or her movements could signal that she is in distress (but this is not the only reason).

Should I buy a doppler?

A doppler is a small portable machine that uses sound waves to detect a baby’s heartbeat. The use of home dopplers is common these days as they become more readily available. Many people are not aware of the dangers of using dopplers as a form of reassurance. You may hear things that will reassure you that aren’t normal; you may also listen to something that worries you but are normal. Your health care providers know what to look for in baby’s heart rate pattern, and how to assess the health of your baby. If you are ever concerned about your baby, please contact your maternity unit, midwife, doctor or hospital.

What do I do if my baby isn’t moving?

In the interest of the health of your baby, please call your maternity unit/hospital/ midwife/ doctor immediately. These operate 24/7. Your call is not an inconvenience and may save your baby’s life. If you have noticed a change, address it before doing anything else. The advice and care we give you will depend entirely on how many weeks pregnant you are. We may ask you to sit and carefully observe your baby’s movements closely for a time and asked to report back. Midwives may also ask you to come in for some fetal monitoring. It is essential that your concerns are heard, acknowledged and treated. You are your baby’s only advocate, know your baby’s movements better than anyone, and know what is normal for your baby.

Please click here to read more about why your baby’s movements matter.

Nikki-Lee Rossiter (BMid) Registered Midwife
Photo by Syda Productions used under license from