First-time expecting mothers often have questions in regard to what is and isn’t normal throughout the course of their pregnancy. One of the most common questions that doctors are asked by expecting parents, is about active babies in the womb. Mothers can often feel their babies begin to move as early as 7 weeks old. However, fetus movement is felt more frequently starting at 20 weeks old.
This blog is meant to provide general knowledge about fetal movement in the womb. Its purpose is not to replace advice from your healthcare provider. For any kind of medical advice, we always recommend getting in touch with your healthcare provider
The information presented in this blog is meant to provide general knowledge. Its purpose is not to replace advice from your healthcare provider. For any kind of medical advice, we always recommend getting in touch with your healthcare provider.
As your baby grows and develops, it is not uncommon for you to begin feeling obligated to tuck your child in at night with a few kicks. When it comes to fetal movement, the range of what is normal varies from one woman to another. Generally, your healthcare provider will be able to tell you what is normal for your body and what may potentially be more concerning.
You are physically feeling your baby’s movement and responses to external stimuli. But the actual frequency of kicking can vary greatly from one pregnancy to another and from one week to another.
At some point, during your pregnancy, you might begin to worry that something is wrong with your growing baby. He/she may simply be moving around a little too much, and you’re concerned about it. Don’t worry! Here’s what you need to know about fetal movement.
First-time expecting mothers often have questions in regard to what is and isn’t normal throughout the course of their pregnancy. One of the most common questions that doctors are asked by expecting parents, is about active babies in the womb. Mothers can often feel their babies begin to move as early as 7 weeks old. However, fetus movement is felt more frequently starting at 20 weeks old. Some mothers, especially those who are experiencing their first pregnancy, are unsure what to expect in terms of fetal movement. The information presented in this blog is meant to provide general knowledge. Its purpose is not to replace advice from your healthcare provider. For any kind of medical advice, we always recommend getting in touch with your healthcare provider.
The fetal movements you feel are an indication that your baby is growing both in size and strength. Research, including this 2016 studyTrusted Source, shows that pregnant people can be highly attuned to their baby’s activity, including:
- frequency of movement (less or more often than expected)
- intensity of movement (weaker or stronger than expected)
- duration of movement (shorter or longer than expected)
- character of movement (a change of pattern — slower or faster than expected)
If your baby is very active, your friends and family may repeat urban legends, such as an active baby results in a smart, boisterous, or athletic child. These claims are largely unfounded.
Your doctor, however, will most likely explain that, to promote healthy bone and joint development, your baby needs to exercise. So this activity is probably normal and healthy movement — not an indicator of the person the baby will grow up to be.
Chances are they’ll also tell you that there’s no such thing as too active a baby in utero, and that as your pregnancy progresses, your baby will tend to grow and become even more active.
Periods of higher activity
Babies are often more active at certain times of day, such as after you’ve eaten a meal or when you’re lying down in bed. (In contrast, your movement — such as a walk around the block — can lull them to sleep.)
And, if your stomach is full (and taking up more room), you might be able to feel that movement even more.
Every pregnancy is different
Remember that no two pregnancies are exactly the same. Friends and family members may have stories about their pregnancies and compare the activity level of their babies to yours. Or in a previous pregnancy, you might not have experienced the same level of activity.
All babies are different, but in most cases, an active baby is a healthy baby.
Feeling your baby’s first gentle kick can be a wonderfully exciting moment, but after a while, the kicks can sometimes be surprisingly forceful.
Many people don’t realize how strong a baby in the womb can be. A 2018 report estimated that fetuses kick with up to 6.5 pounds of force at just 20 weeks. At 30 weeks, their legs can generate up to 10.5 pounds of force. At 35 weeks, the force drops off to 3.8 pounds of force as your baby starts running out of space.
And, while this kicking is going on, by 15 weeks, your baby is also punching with their little limbs and moving their head.
By your third trimester, your healthcare provider will most likely have you monitoring your baby’s movements.
Your doctor may suggest kick counting: counting the number of kicks your baby makes in a certain time period (typically 10 minutes). This should be done at the same time every day so you can monitor changes in activity.
There’s no set number of kicks you should feel. Once you’ve set up a baseline of how many kicks to expect during that period, you can discuss any increase or decrease in activity with your doctor.
If your active baby becomes less active, tell your doctor. A decrease in fetal movement may indicate a potential problem that your doctor should address early.
A 2020 studyTrusted Source of pregnant women who sought care for reduced fetal movement indicated that the poor neonatal outcome (particularly stillbirth) ranged from 6.2 percent to 18.4 percent within different groups.
The highest incidence was among women in the groups with small-for-gestational-age fetuses. The study recommended a routine ultrasound assessment for fetal growth during the third trimester.
Bottom line: If you aren’t able to feel fetal movement after 22 weeks, or if you experience a decrease in fetal movement any time in your third trimester, talk with your doctor. Your baby may still be healthy, but you may need additional monitoring.https://cdaf76c29f4e8342ff6a6b9ab5d0d064.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll typically feel your baby move. Generally, an active baby is a healthy baby. The movement is your baby exercising to promote healthy bone and joint development.
All pregnancies and all babies are different, but it’s unlikely that lots of activity means anything other than your baby is growing in size and strength.
By your third trimester, your doctor will probably have you kick counting to monitor the level of your baby’s activity. If after 22 weeks you don’t feel movement, your doctor may suggest additional monitoring.
Very Active Baby in Womb Means
Some days, you may feel like a human punching bag turned inside out — with the kicks, punches, and head butts coming from the little one in your womb. You wonder: Is this normal? The kicking may lead you to believe that you’ll be raising a soccer star.
Even if your pregnant sister-in-law or BFF report no such intensity, rest assured that your experience is very within the realm of normal. Let’s look at what it may mean.
Excessive Fetal Movement Is a Sign of a Healthy Pregnancy
According to our maternal fetal medicine (MFM) experts, even growing and developing babies need exercise. Mothers may expect their children to only move occasionally, yet frequent movement is an important part of development inside the womb. Research has shown that frequent movement in utero is important, as it allows the baby’s bones, joints, and muscles to properly develop. For mothers, each pregnancy may be different, and the amount of movement expected can vary based on the child’s size and activity level inside the womb.
Doctors often advise expecting mothers not to worry if the fetus seems to be moving too often, especially in later stages of pregnancy. This is due to the fact that as the baby grows, its space is limited. Therefore, any movement from the fetus may be more noticeable as space they have to move is somewhat constrained. It’s also important to note that your child may move less the closer to the end of the pregnancy, as they have less space to move freely.
Reasons It Feels Like Your Baby Is Moving “Too Much”
Mothers may begin to feel like the baby is moving “too much” as they start to grow and develop. Having thoughts such as, “Can my baby move too much?” is relatively normal, especially as you begin to familiarize yourself with fetal movement. However, there are several different reasons why you may feel your child move in the womb, such as the following:
- Babies require exercise, even while in the womb, to promote healthy joint and bone development. Your baby may just be performing natural, healthy movements.
- You’ve recently eaten. Babies are most active after you’ve eaten a meal, and with a full stomach, mothers are more likely to feel the movements of the baby, as there is less overall room for the baby to move.
- For new mothers, they’ll often begin to notice movement around 22 weeks. As the child grows, it begins to become more active, so you may start to feel like your baby is kicking too much or more than usual. Keep in mind that it takes some time to determine a baseline of normal activity for your baby while they’re in the womb.
These are only a few reasons you may have felt your baby moving more than usual. Ultimately, they have energy and require semifrequent exercise as they learn to move and use their bones and joints.
How Much Movement Is Too Much Fetal Movement?
Despite this information, if you’re concerned that your baby is moving too frequently, it’s important to understand how baby movement works. To begin with, mothers often experience the feeling of fetal movement somewhat differently based on varying factors. While some mothers may feel that their child does not move frequently, others may feel that their child is moving constantly. This is normal, and doctors have explained it in a number of ways.
Factors that may impact how you experience fetal movement include, but are not limited to:
- The placement of the placenta: At times, the placenta can be at the front of the uterus and create a pillow-like effect, keeping the mother from feeling the movement of the baby as intensely. This means that while the baby may be moving within the uterus, the mother has a more difficult time feeling it.
- Weight of the mother: Patients who are overweight often have a more difficult time feeling the movement of the baby, as they have a bit of extra padding to hide those movements.
- The personality of the baby: Some babies are more active than others. While this answer doesn’t calm many expecting mothers, it’s important to know that no two pregnancies will be exactly the same.
Ultimately, there’s no such thing as excessive fetal movement. Babies will often have their own activity levels. There are certain trends that most pregnancies follow, such as the fetus being the most active after a meal; although this may not be the case for every pregnancy. Most doctors will advise that the only cause for concern is if you are unable to feel fetal movement after 22 weeks. At this point, you should reach out to your doctor. While you may still be having a perfectly healthy pregnancy, the inability to feel movement may mean the need for additional monitoring, to ensure the healthy growth and development of your child.
Can Your Baby Really Move Too Much?
There are a thousand different aspects of pregnancy that may change the way you experience it, even from one pregnancy to the next. On average, babies kick approximately 10 times an hour, which is what doctors recommend you count. However, some babies are more active than others. Ultimately, doctors will look for approximately one active hour a day as the guidelines of a healthy pregnancy.
Still, some babies are more active. Activity in the womb is normal, and the overall level will vary even from pregnancy to pregnancy. While some mothers may have a relatively inactive child during their first pregnancy, different factors may cause them to have a very active second pregnancy. Realistically, there’s no scientific explanation for this beyond the idea that different children will have different activity levels, more or less as a part of their personality.
When Should You Worry?
You shouldn’t worry about a baby that moves a lot in the womb. Typically, this is the sign of a healthy pregnancy and should not be a cause for concern. Moreover, if you notice a change in the time of activity for your child, it’s important to keep in mind that in the womb, children are not adhering to a specific schedule. Their activity levels may suddenly trend toward a different time of day in an unexpected manner.
The only time you should truly worry is if you notice a decrease in movement or the absence of movement. As the pregnancy progresses, the intensity of movements may naturally decline. A reason to call your doctor would be a significant decrease in movement, resulting in less than one active hour a day. Additionally, if you stop feeling any movement from the fetus, you should reach out.
Otherwise, activity levels vary. There are ways to make you more comfortable if you feel like your baby is kicking too much, but keep in mind that they’re just exercising. If you have additional questions, please reach out to your TopLine MD provider for more information.