First-time mums usually only recognise their baby’s movements as late as the 24th week of pregnancy. Although your little one has started moving long before that, the sensation is unfamiliar, and you might not recognise it for what it is – baby’s first kicks. Some mums think they just have wind. Second-time mums usually recognise their baby’s movements much earlier, in some cases even as early as 12 weeks.
“I felt my baby’s first kicks at 18 weeks,” says Living and Loving designer Tintswalo Nsibande. “I felt my baby’s first movements quite early, but the first time I was sure it was a kick was 17 weeks,” adds first-time mum Marianne McDonald.
Noise, light and spicy food can prompt movement
Babies tend to move in response to what’s happening in their environment. Too much noise, light or even spicy food can stimulate your baby into kicking and moving. “My little one used to kick a lot when I ate or drank anything sweet, especially Oreo biscuits and Bar One chocolate,” says Tintswalo. “My baby kicks pretty much every time I have a meal or eat something sweet,” says Marianne.
Babies also need to stretch and move for relaxation. If you’re moving around, it can be soothing for your baby. She will often relax and even go to sleep.
How many baby kicks are normal?
The average number of kicks fall between 15 and 20 per day, but remember that this includes all movement. Every baby is different. Some babies sleep all day and move at night while you are asleep, and others move around all the time. If you have been busy and on the move, you might not notice your baby’s movements.
How to count baby kicks
It’s normal to worry if you think you haven’t felt your baby move for a while. If you notice any of the following signs, you should monitor your baby’s movements:
- Fewer than 10 movements in a two-hour period
- Reduced or no movement when patting or prodding your belly, or to the sound of your and your partner’s voices
- A gradual decrease in your baby’s movements for more than two consecutive days.
If you think your baby is moving less, make a note of any movements over an hour. Sit down, have a snack or a cold drink, and put your feet up. The sugar in the food or the coldness of the drink should wake your baby and you should feel at least ten movements in the next two hours. These will include rolls, thumps, hiccups, kicks and pokes. Contact your doctor immediately if you don’t feel your baby move within that two hour period.
Will my baby move less after 36 weeks?
Your baby should always be moving throughout the day. After the 36th week of pregnancy, babies have much less room for big movements such as kicks and rolls. But this doesn’t mean she will move less. She will still use her hands to explore her face and body, and try to stretch in her cramped surroundings.