There can be great variations among healthy babies as to how often and how hard they "kick". You may notice that your baby prefers a particular position or has a favorite time of the day to be most active. Generally, moms find their babies are most active after eating a meal, drinking something cold, or after physical activity. More pronounced body movements also are easy to notice when you change from a sitting to a lying position. When you shift and need to adjust a little bit, so does your baby.
The baby's movements will also change as he or she grows bigger and gets into position for birth. You will feel fewer big turns and twists, but more kicks and jabs as your pregnancy progresses and your baby has less room to move.
Sometimes it’s just calm…Your baby will sleep many times in the course of a day. Around 28 weeks gestation, your baby has developed a regular wake and sleep cycle. Unfortunately, it may not be the same as yours. For instance, I find my baby to be very active late at night, between midnight and 2:00 am! You’ll notice, though, your baby’s periods of sleep last longer as your pregnancy goes on. Researchers have found that beginning at around 36 weeks’ gestation, babies normally pass through sleep cycles of deep sleep and light sleep. These cycles last about 70–90 minutes. During deep sleep your baby may not move at all, but during light sleep he may move a little bit or even suck his thumb or finger (Van den Bergh & Mulder 2012).
What the baby is telling you with his kicks is important!Each baby is unique and will move in his own way. Your pregnancy check-up will help you keep an eye on your baby's well-being, but you are the one that "knows" your baby best before he is born. Though strongly recommended for high risk pregnancies, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) consider beneficial for every pregnant woman to count fetal movements beginning at 28 weeks. At this point, you should feel your baby move several times every day. Setting aside time every day when you know your baby is active to count kicks, rolls, and jabs may help identify potential problems and could help prevent stillbirth (Saastad et al. 2010).
Your doctor or midwife will explain to you how to count your baby’s kicks every day. Being attentive to your baby’s movements will help you notice any significant changes. Once you start feeling your baby kick every day, it is important that you notice when it kicks much less than usual. If you have any concern, call your doctor for advice.
You can practice feeling for kicks!
If you are pregnant, soon you will be spending a lot of time caring for your baby. We encourage you to devote a little time each day during your pregnancy to get to know your baby by his movements. Taking time to do your kick counts will allow you to rest and bond with your baby!
We’d love to hear about your own experience feeling your baby kick! Send us your comments!
References:Hijazi ZR, East CE. Factors Affecting Maternal Perception of Fetal Movement. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2009; 64(7): 489-497.
Van den Bergh BR, Mulder EJ. Fetal sleep organization: A biological precursor of self-regulation in childhood and adolescence? Biol Psychol. 2012; 89(3): 584–590.
Saastad E, Holm Tveit JV, Flenady V, Stray-Pedersen B, Frett RC, Bordahl PE, Froen JF. Implementation of uniform information on fetal movement in a Norwegian population reduced delayed reporting of decreased fetal movement and stillbirths in primiparous women - A clinical quality improvement. BMC Res Notes. 2010; 3(2).