Congratulations on your pregnancy! In this article, we are going to talk kick counts! Also known as fetal movements, baby kicks, quickening, rib bruisers, flutters, baby boogie, butterflies, bubbles, tiny tango, bladder blasters, etc. (Ok, I made a couple of those up!) Regardless of what you call them, in your third trimester, it is important to pay particular attention to these movements.
Some women may feel tiny flutters or movements as early as 13-16w pregnant, however, on average most women will feel those first movements between 18-22w of pregnancy. With your first pregnancy, it’s often hard to distinguish those first tiny flutters (called quickening) from gas bubbles, you may not notice until the movements are slightly bigger after 20w.
By 24w you are not only feeling them, but you actually might start to see them! You might notice some jerking motions or little bumps on your belly. The baby is getting bigger and those movements can be seen! Hiccups are something that can happen around this time too, which is completely normal. It may feel like a repetitive constant “tapping” sensation lasting anywhere from a minute to an hour. Such an amazing sensation and calming feeling to feel all these little movements!
After 26w you might start to feel bigger, slower movements as your baby moves around their tiny apartment, turning, and changing positions. Then around 30-32w, you should be feeling your baby move several times a day. This is when kick counts become more important. A kick count is a conscious counting of fetal movements in a 2-hour window. This is a good indicator of your baby’s well being in your uterus, it can track patterns of movements and alert you to a potential problem early. If only our bellies came with a small window to see baby growing and moving in there, things would be so much easier!
So, how do you do a kick count?
Get cozy. You may be able to feel movements better if you are lying down (not flat on your back). Place your hands on your belly and close your eyes and minimize distractions.
Try in the evening when your baby is often more active.
You can drink something cold like water or juice or have a light snack (however this is not necessary).
Feel for movements in a 2 hour period. You are feeling for movements such as rolling, kicks, flutters, or even hiccups.
YOU WANT TO FEEL 6 MOVEMENTS 2 HOURS (More are ok! In the USA the guidelines are slightly different, talk with your healthcare provider).
These movements can all be in the first 5 minutes, it’s just important to be sure you have felt 6 movements. You can stop counting once you have felt those 6 movements.
The Society of Obstetricians & Gynecologists of Canada suggests that you try to do the kick counts at the same time each day.
IF you do not feel 6 definite movements in a 2-hour window or you are unsure, you should contact your health care provider and go to be checked at your nearest health care facility right away. They will check the health status of your baby and you! If you are unsure, it is always better to go get checked than to sit at home wondering.
The 2-hour window is important because your baby goes through sleep cycles in utero and may just be sleeping when you first start your kick count! Your physician may suggest you start counting kicks earlier or do the counts more often based on the risk factors that you have in your pregnancy. It’s also important to note that there is a small percentage of women that do not feel fetal movements, this is something that you will discuss with your healthcare provider.
For more information about your pregnancy sign up to our Prenatal Series, you will receive evidence-informed prenatal information focused on your week of pregnancy delivered right to your inbox! Congrats Mama, enjoy those kicks!