Baby Kick Counter: When to Call Your Doctor

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Deepinder Kaur (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist)
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Every baby is different; some babies may be more active and will be jumping around constantly. On the other hand, some babies might want to snooze around till they pop out of you before they start moving. Either way, every baby will move in the womb. You must get attuned to what’s normal for your baby and measure your baby’s movements accordingly.

Some patterns of the baby’s movements are sure shot warning signs and need medical attention. However, before knowing these patterns, every pregnant woman needs to know what movements babies make at each trimester.

Trimester-Wise Baby Movements in the Womb

While the mother will feel the baby’s kicks only in the second trimester, the baby’s movements are continuously happening due to its physical and neurological development inside the womb.

First Trimester

At six and seven weeks of pregnancy, a human embryo can arch its back and move its arms and legs. However, the mother cannot feel these movements, although ultrasound may capture them. The baby can move his limbs in the fetal stage, first together and then independently, as the controlling neurons develop in the spinal cord. The baby can move its hands, knees, and hips at week 9, stretch its body, and yawn in week 10. Further, around week 11, the fetus can open its mouth and also suck its fingers. Around week 12, the baby may begin to swallow the amniotic fluid.

Second Trimester

The second semester is equally fascinating as the baby continues growing and moving inside the womb. By week 12 of pregnancy, the baby can curl its toes and kick. Some ultrasounds have even shown babies catching their toes and scratching themselves. The baby’s thoracic diaphragm movements can also be seen in an ultrasound before they disappear in week 16.

Mothers commonly sense their babies kicking in the fifth month. This event is also called quickening, and it is this time onwards, all mothers should keep track of the kick count. As your baby’s limbs develop, its movements become complex, and it can flex its joints. By week 21, the baby will develop a schedule of movements. Between 24 and 28 weeks, the baby will also develop a startle reflex.

The fetus will show a pronounced circadian rhythm between 14 and 18 weeks. one can detect this rhythm by measuring locomotor activity or a fetal electrocardiogram. The baby will have active and quiet periods, which will not usually correspond to the mother.

Third Trimester

In the third trimester, the baby’s movements resemble the bicycling or stepping motion, wherein the baby circularly moves its legs. This motion helps the fetus move to a head-down position and prepare for birth. In the last 4 to 6 weeks before birth, the fetus is more likely to kick and jab while sleeping.

After week 30, your baby’s movements can change as it will not be able to flip around as before. This happens due to the baby’s increasing size and less room to move. You are likely to sense little tickles and squirming motions this time around instead of flips and turns. You may also experience a sudden kick or jab.

Keeping track of the kicks and movements should be continued at this time to ensure the baby’s movements are closer to what is expected during the third trimester, late pregnancy, and before labor.

As mentioned earlier, some patterns of the baby’s movements are warning signs and need medical attention. Continue reading to know when you should consult a doctor for issues with your baby’s movements.

When to Call a Doctor for Concerns About Your Baby’s Movements

Here are some observations you should inform your doctor to ensure your baby is healthy:

1. Sudden Change in Pattern:

Does your baby always start kicking when you eat but didn’t do it today? Does your baby like to stretch his limbs when you go for a walk but didn’t do so today? Any deviation from the usual pattern could be cause for concern. Be vigilant!

2. Changes or Drops in the Baby’s Movements

As you get used to your baby’s movements in your womb, you will notice the changes or drops in the movements. It is best to visit your doctor immediately when this happens, rather than to postpone it.

Your best guide will be your instincts because when you are pregnant, your instincts are the strongest than they have ever been at any point in life. Trust yourself, and if you are still not sure, do not hesitate to call your doctor.

Also Read:

Baby Kicking During Pregnancy
Foetal Kick Counts – Importance and How to Perform
Baby Moves or Kicks in the Night During Pregnancy

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