The baby’s movements inside the belly

One of the questions women ask at the beginning of pregnancy is when will I start to feel the baby’s movements in the womb? We can say that this unforgettable feeling will actually happen several weeks after the fetus starts moving.

Therefore, although there is no single answer for all women, there are some stages of normal development of the fetus that will determine the ability of movement of the fetus, and will place approximately the time when we notice them.

The baby’s movements begin to be felt in the womb around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy, a sensation that will be repeated frequently until the time of birth.

Before this stage, it is not that the baby does not move, but in the “amplitude” of the maternal uterus and with the belly still small, without there being pressure on the walls of the uterus or that these pressure on our abdominal muscles, the movements are not noticed. Let’s see step by step how the baby moves in your belly.

Chronology of the baby’s movements in the womb

  • In the first few weeks, the embryo grows at an accelerated rate, forming more and more, and the main external characteristics of the baby begin to take shape, until it reaches the stage known as the “fetus”, from the eighth week onwards. The end of the eighth week 

marks the end of the “embryonic period” and the beginning of the “fetal period.

  • It is then that the baby begins to move more, although the mother is still late in perceiving it. Around the 12th week of pregnancy the baby can grasp the fingers, and by the 14th week more muscle and bone tissue has developed, and the bones become harder: the baby begins to make active movements, such as sucking movements with the mouth.
  • It is therefore around 20 weeks when the baby makes the most movements and the mother may feel an agitation in the lower abdomen. These first perceptible movements may feel like butterflies or bubbles, but they are not yet the expected little kicks that will take longer to be noticed.
  • From the 23rd week onwards, the baby is more active and has greater muscular development, while at the same time it begins to accumulate fat, so that the mother can feel the baby moving more clearly.
  • In the 26th week the fetus presents the prehensile and startle reflex, these starters can be felt for example as a reaction to a loud sound, a start from the mother, a sudden movement of the mother …
  • Around the 32nd week the baby has grown a lot and has less room to move, but will continue to do so until the time of birth no matter how tight it is. The kicks are clearly perceptible, even with the naked eye you can see the lumps that move in the belly of the pregnant woman.
  • In the last month of pregnancy, especially around the due date, her movements have decreased due to the limited space she has to move. But she will continue to do so, and if she does not, we must go to the doctor immediately.

Neither all women nor all pregnancies feel the same movements.

Logically, neither all pregnancies nor all women are the same, so most mothers do not agree on the dates referring to the first time they felt the baby’s movements or the description of the sensation. Some pregnant women are more sensitive than others so they could detect the movement earlier. After birth, you should install a baby movement monitor so you can watch your baby movements in real time from your phone 

In addition, in second and subsequent pregnancies, the baby’s movements are felt earlier, although this is not always the case and many women notice them at the same height of gestation or even after.

But it is more frequent to notice the baby’s movements or first kicks in subsequent pregnancies, and this is because both the muscles of the abdominal wall and the uterus, which have dilated during the first pregnancy, are less toned. 

As the muscles of the abdomen are more distended, it is easier for them to give in to the first movements (moving a tight muscle or noticing that it is pushed is more difficult).

In this sense, it can also influence that we already have the experience of what those sensations are from the previous pregnancy (which could also indicate that in a first pregnancy the movements occurred earlier but we went unnoticed).

In general, it is from the 18th week in the first pregnancy and from the 15th-16th week in the second pregnancy that the baby’s movements begin to be noticed. If the pregnancy is multiple or the date of pregnancy is wrong and we are actually pregnant longer, it is also possible that the movements are noticed earlier.

Feeling and seeing the baby’s movements

In this day and age, it’s not all about feeling the baby. We can also see him move. In the ultrasound scans of the last trimester it is frequent, if we observe the monitor, to see how the baby moves, even to perceive if he makes subtle movements that we do not perceive in the belly, such as sucking his finger.

High-definition “3 D” and “4 D” ultrasounds can even show us gestures of the baby, if he frowned, if he “smiled”… thanks to the fact that the images are seen in three dimensions and with more detail.

These first images of the movement of the baby in the womb are very exciting, but no matter how clear they are we will still have to imagine much of their appearance. When it is born, although we will be filled with new emotions, we will have a strange feeling, surely we will miss that feeling of the baby moving inside us.