Have you felt your baby move yet? Look out for a flutter under your heart

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Pregnant couple showcasing their baby bump.
Pregnant couple showcasing their baby bump.

Are you eagerly awaiting that first flutter, that is not just a hunger pang? Are you beginning to worry that it will never happen, or maybe your baby is so active that you can’t sleep?

And how can you get your baby to move so your partner can feel it too?

How will I know?

The answer is a little unsatisfactory. You’ll know!

Speak to other moms, and they’ll mostly be able to tell you exactly when they felt it the first time and the descriptions can be exciting: air bubbles, but not gas, like popcorn popping, or a goldfish swimming in the tummy or a butterfly. First-time moms usually notice movement somewhere between 18 and 22 weeks.

With your second baby, you will most likely feel it earlier, simply because you know what to be on the lookout. The location of your placenta also plays a role in when you will feel the first movement. If your placenta is attached to the front of your womb wall, you will most likely only feel movement at 22 weeks.

And after that, you might have to wait for many days before you think it again. This is normal – remember, your baby is still tiny at 22 weeks and has small feet and fists. Your baby’s personality is already playing a role too.

You know how some people can sit motionless on the couch for ages and others can barely stop twitching and moving for half a minute?

The same is true for babies. Some are simply more active in the womb than others. In general, doctors and midwives take ten felt movements per day from 25 weeks onwards as an average.

Another way to measure is to observe if you feel four movements per hour. Keep in mind that movements are very light early in the pregnancy and only get powerful in the last trimester.

You might feel less movement then, only because space is getting tight. It is very common for pregnant women to report that their baby is more active in the evening compared to during the day.

This is because you are active during the day and your movements soothe baby and lull him to sleep. Then, when you begin to wind down, baby wakes up. He likes to moves his arms and fists about, and kick his legs. He also regularly makes turns of 180 or even 360 degrees.

Another cute move to be on the lookout for is hiccups.

Your baby starts to swallow amniotic fluid from 25 weeks and can begin to hiccup, and you can feel it! Another factor that influences your baby’s movement is the amount of amniotic fluid in the womb.

Think of the womb as a swimming pool. Some are full of water, and some are maybe only half-full. A baby in a half-full pool can’t move as freely and easily as one in a full pool.

So if you have little amniotic fluid, the same applies – there is less water for baby to move around in. This doesn’t influence the number of movements, but rather the quality of the movement.

One big thing you might be worried about, especially if your baby moves a lot, is whether your baby can get entangled in the umbilical cord.

And yes, the cord can twist around his neck, but this does not pose any danger for you or him. It can, however, lead to complications during labour. If you are keen for your partner or a friend to feel the baby moving, but the baby isn’t cooperating, you can try and take a few sips of Coke or have a coffee.

You’ll be amazed that the sugar or caffeine kick could deliver results immediately, making your baby suddenly become active. Of course, it is not a good idea to do this at night if you want to have a good night’s rest.

Read more:

Movement and labour

The ideal birthing position for your baby to be in is head down, chin tucked to the chest, and the baby’s back facing your tummy wall. In the breech position, your baby is positioned with his head to the top. His bum or feet at the bottom.

There is no scientific evidence that it works, but to turn baby to the desired position midwives have relied for decades on a technique where mom is encouraged to lie on her back for ten minutes at a time with cushions under her bum. It can take up to two weeks for this to work though and some babies never turn.

Another technique that is often recommended is for you to crouch on your haunches with your bum lifted, and to gently push on your tummy to turn the head and bum of your baby around.

If you suspect that your baby has turned, you can ask for a scan to confirm this and then of course stop with the exercises. But before you try either of the techniques though, talk to your gynaecologist about it, because he or she could also help, using a method called external cephalic version.

But be warned, the success rate is under 60 %, and your gynaecologist will first weigh up several factors such as the size of your baby, the location of your placenta and how much amniotic fluid you have before attempting it.

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