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Baby Movement

Foetal movements (FM) are often associated with the wellbeing of unborn babies. Early baby movements are sometimes referred to as ‘flutterings’ or ‘quickening’.

Timetable for baby movements

If you’re having your first baby, you will probably start to feel movements from around 18 to 21 weeks gestation. If you’ve had a baby before, you may start to feel movements as early as 15 to 16 weeks.

By 22 to 24 weeks, most women will be feeling many movements a day. From 28 weeks, movements are a significant and reliable marker of your baby’s wellbeing. The commonly held belief that movements slow down in the last third of pregnancy is not true.

Things you should know about baby movements

  • More movements are experienced when you’re lying down.
  • Research suggests that noticing movement can be affected by maternal weight, number of children you’ve had before, where the placenta is sited and anxiety or psychological issues.
  • Your perception of movement will be greater when more than one part of the baby moves at once.
  • The nature and pattern of movements change as pregnancy progresses.
  • Caffeine increases activity; smoking, sedatives, narcotics, methadone and alcohol suppress foetal movements.
  • Eating meals does not affect baby movements, although glucose levels do increase foetal breathing.

How to monitor your baby’s movement and when to get help

From 28 weeks you should take the time to be aware of your baby’s movements. Most babies have an active time of day and you will get to know this. If you are concerned that your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped, then you should get it checked out that day - contact your LMC. Your LMC will be able to assess the situation and make decisions with you about next steps.

If you are unable to contact your LMC, please contact the Women’s Assessment Unit (WAU) on 09 631 0784 to talk with a midwife.

If you are unsure whether the movements are reduced or not, you can try lying on your side for 2 hours, and focus on the movements.If you don’t feel 10 or more movements in 2 hours, please contact your LMC or hospital midwife as above.

Don’t wait and worry at home, no-one will mind if you come in and it is a false alarm.

Additional information:

National Women's Health
Phone: 09 307 4949
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