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Fetal Movement: What’s Normal and What’s Cause for Concern?

Feeling your baby kick for the first time is one of the many joys of pregnancy. It’s a sensation that only you feel, helping you connect and bond with your baby. Fetal movements are also a sign of fetal health and well-being. 

Every pregnancy is different, but you may want to know when you can expect to feel fetal movements as well as what’s a normal amount of movement or what’s cause for concern. At Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, we specialize in prenatal care, managing normal and  high risk pregnancies

Our team of women’s health experts takes great care of our expecting mothers, covering all topics that come up during pregnancy. In this month’s blog, we explain fetal movements, what to expect, and when to reach out for help.

About fetal movements

Fetal movements are the fluttering sensations you feel when your baby moves around in your uterus. Some women say it feels like butterflies.

You may start feeling fetal movements, also called quickening, during your second trimester, usually between weeks 16 and 25 of your pregnancy. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel the movements until closer to the 25th week of gestation. If this is your second or third pregnancy, you may feel movement sooner than week 16. 

As the fetus grows and you enter into the third trimester, the movements become stronger, and you may see a foot or elbow ripple under the skin of your abdomen.

What’s normal

Fetal movements vary from pregnancy to pregnancy, so there’s no set criteria for what’s considered normal. However, we do use fetal movement as a guide to monitor fetal health. 

Around 28 weeks of gestation, we ask our pregnant patients to start monitoring fetal movement using a technique we call the fetal kick count. During a set time, you monitor the number of times you feel the fetus move or kick. We recommend monitoring movement around the same time every day and picking a time that you notice your baby is most active.

Ideally, you should feel at least 10 kicks over a two-hour time period. Eating and talking may help increase your baby’s movements.

When to see your OB/GYN

If your baby moves fewer than 10 times during a two-hour kick count session, give us a call. Less movement isn’t always a major cause of concern; however, a decline in fetal movements may indicate a problem with the amniotic fluid, placenta, or fetus.

We may have you come in for a fetal ultrasound to assess the situation. If we have any concerns about you or the health of the fetus, we may order a fetal heart monitoring test — a noninvasive test in which we monitor your baby’s heart rate over a set period. 

Fetal movement helps you feel connected to your baby during pregnancy. Monitoring your baby’s kicks can ease concerns you have about the health of your baby and ensure you get prompt medical attention when necessary.

For comprehensive prenatal care from a skilled and compassionate team, call our office in Hastings or Grand Island, Nebraska, or request an appointment online to schedule a consultation with the providers at Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, today.

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