If you’ve just started feeling your baby moving or if you’re wondering when you’ll feel it, here’s a guide to what mums-to-be may feel.
Is it a baby or wind?
You may start feeling your baby moving at around 16 weeks. But at first you may not realise that the fluttering or bubbling feelings are signs that your baby is moving. It can take up to 22 weeks before you get these feelings, so don’t worry if you’re four months pregnant and you haven’t felt them yet. Babies start moving in the womb from seven to eight weeks, long before flutterings are felt by mum. At nine weeks, the arms and legs are moving, and by 11 weeks the head moves from side to side and baby can stretch and yawn. You may have seen just how lively your baby was at your first trimester scan at around 12 weeks. At 20-24 weeks pregnant, baby’s activity increases. He or she starts to kick, roll and even hiccup! By this stage, you may notice a pattern of activity, with baby resting at certain times and being active at other times (often at night!).
Why can’t I feel baby moving?
The placenta, which is attached to the wall of the womb and provides nutrients for your baby throughout pregnancy, can be in a position that prevents you feeling your baby’s earliest movements. This is quite common and nothing to worry about. If you have a low lying placenta it might be seen if you are offered an ultrasound scan at around 20 weeks. You may be rushing around during the day, and as you move your baby is rocked to sleep. So you may not feel your baby moving when you’re busy but as soon as you sit down and rest, there’s more activity as baby wakes up. As your pregnancy advances, you’ll get used to your baby’s unique pattern of activity. If you haven’t felt the baby for a few hours, trying making a loud noise, which often startles baby into moving, or drink a glass of cold water – the change in temperature often stimulates movement.
What to do if you’re concerned
At 17-20 weeks it’s too early to worry if there’s very little movement. Your ultrasound scan at 10-13 weeks would have shown you that your pregnancy is developing normally. However, once your baby’s movements are established and frequent, whatever week in your pregnancy, it’s important to monitor how much your baby is moving and kicking as it’s a crucial indicator of your baby’s wellbeing. Professor Michael Turner of the UCD Centre for Human Reproduction and the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital advises, “If the baby isn’t kicking or if the mother thinks there’s some change in the pattern of kicking, she should go in and get it checked out.” So, if you’re concerned, especially if you don’t feel right in yourself, contact your doctor or midwife. Find out more about your your second trimester here.
Where’s the placenta?
The placenta usually attaches to the back of the womb, near the spine. But when a placenta lies at the front of the womb, it’s known as ‘an anterior placenta’. Its placement can muffle the baby’s movements until later in the pregnancy. An anterior placenta will often move into a more backward lying position as pregnancy progresses and the womb enlarges.
A placenta that lies in the lower part of the womb near the cervix in early or mid-pregnancy usually moves higher by late pregnancy and causes no problems. However, if a placenta remains near or over the cervix towards the end of pregnancy, it may cause problems during birth. If it covers the cervix, it’s known as ‘placenta praevia’, which is relatively rare. Any woman with placenta praevia will be monitored throughout the later stages of pregnancy to ensure it does not cause problems. The position of the placenta is carefully monitored throughout pregnancy so that any problems can be addressed in advance. If your placenta is front or low lying, try not to worry. Ultrasound scans during pregnancy give the medical experts the information they need to ensure they can work round problems and ensure a safe delivery of your baby.