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Foetal Movement during Pregnancy

Updated at: Jul 10, 2013
Written by: Dr Sonali ShivlaniPublished at: Jan 16, 2013
Foetal Movement during Pregnancy

Foetal movement during pregnancy and how it varies under certain conditions like after a meal. Initial signs of pregnancy, baby's twisting and turning and heightened activities.

Pregnancy: A new phase of life


Pregnant woman trying to adjust headphone around her bellyPregnancy is one of the most amazing times in a woman’s life as she is actually creating a new life within her. She enters a new phase of her life which brings about changes in lifestyle, emotions, relationships and much more.


Physical signs of pregnancy are negligible in the first month


From the moment the pregnancy is confirmed, the anticipation of the baby’s arrival and the planning for the birth begins. However, for the first few weeks there appear to be no physical signs of a pregnancy. The stomach does not bulge; the baby’s movements are not felt and so on. A woman may experience hormonal changes such as nausea and mood swings but the only physical evidence she has of this new life is the ultrasounds and the fetal heart tones on the Doppler at the doctor’s office.


Early kicks


As the baby grows in size and strength, its movements are felt by the mother. And at later stages even by the father. Some alert mums can feel the fetal kicks as early as 16 weeks. These early kicks or movements feel like small flutters or gas bubbles and they are often described as a small butterfly in the stomach. Often a mother is not sure that it is the baby moving and she dismisses it as gas.


Mother will have an idea of baby’s sleep


Most women will be sure of the fetal kicks at approximately 20 weeks of gestation. At this point, a mother will also have a definite idea of her baby’s sleep and getting up cycles and can predict when her baby will be alert. However, it is improbable that the father-to- be is able to feel anything just yet. Do not despair!


There are many women who report the sensation of the first kicks as late as 24 weeks. This is also completely normal. Each woman is built differently and the amniotic fluid levels also contribute to how much kicks are felt externally.
Avoid comparison of fetal kicks


The baby moves at regular intervals in the womb but remember each baby is different. Some babies are more exuberant and the mother may feel that she has a full blown foot ball match happening inside her abdomen, while other babies are more sedate and the mother is worried that there might be something amiss with her unborn child. It is best to avoid comparison of fetal movements and kicks with other moms and maintain your own record of fetal kick counts.


Baby’s turning and twisting


Fetal kicks and movements peak at approximately 32 weeks and then slowly become more controlled and sedate. At approximately 36 weeks the mother may report that the movements are now much less than before. This is because; the baby is almost full term and is occupying all the space in the womb. This leaves very little space for gymnastics and the baby satisfies itself with just stretching, turning and twisting.


Activity Levels During 24 Hour Period


Most babies in the womb are active when the mothers are sedate and will sleep when their mothers are active and moving about. This happens when the mother is moving, but her body acts as a natural swing which lulls the baby into an inactive state. When the mother lies down to rest, this swinging motion stops which results in the baby waking up and thus there is a rise in the activity levels.


Heightened baby activities


Babies also show higher activity post meals. This happens due to the rise in blood sugar levels which provides energy to the baby and the baby shows a rise in activity levels.


All in all, it is observed that a fetus is most active post meals, when the mother lies down to rest.


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