Quickening: Everything You Need to Know about Baby Movements 

Dec 10 , 2020

Doan Khanh

Quickening: Everything You Need to Know about Baby Movements 

Feeling the first baby movement is one of the most special feelings in every mom's pregnancy journey. But, you might be wondering when you’ll start to experience that feeling. Or, you might not know if it was your baby moving or just gas. Here’s everything you need to know about quickening and your baby’s movements in utero.

What is Quickening?


The term “quickening” or “fetal movement” is used to describe the moment when a mother first feels her baby move in utero. Around your fifth month of pregnancy, you may start to feel your baby’s movement for the first time. During this time, your baby’s muscles begin to develop and your little one will start exercising them. Second-time moms might experience quickening a little earlier, perhaps as early as 16 weeks. Every mom is unique. So, be patient if you haven’t felt anything yet! For example, first-time moms might experience quickening a little later, perhaps at around 18 weeks, than second-time moms.

What Does Quickening Feel Like?

The strength and frequency of fetal movements will be based on where you are in your pregnancy, and how much room your little one has to move around. Remember that the top of your uterus is still low in the earlier parts of pregnancy and when quickening occurs. So, focus on your lower abdomen! For these reasons, the sensations you may feel when your baby moves vary widely. Many moms describe them as feeling like:

  • Fluttering sensations
  • Sharp kicks
  • Slow stretching
  • Gentle pressure
  • Turning or rolling
  • Tumbling
  • Muscle twitches
  • Growling tummy

It can be hard to distinguish your baby’s early movements from sensations like gas, hunger, or other internal movements. If you’ve been pregnant before, you might be familiar with the feeling and so you might be aware of quickening a little earlier. On the other hand, if this is your first time, you may not know what to look for. And, you might not realize that you’re experiencing quickening until a little later.

Toward the end of your pregnancy, your baby’s movements may start to feel different once more because there is less room in your uterus. So, although your baby is moving the same as before, it might feel a little bit different now.

Fetal Movement Counting 

At some point in your pregnancy, you might need to start counting your baby’s movements to make sure that everything is fine. Kick counting is highly recommended if you haven’t been feeling any regular movement.

Decide How You Want to Record

There are many ways to record the number of movements you feel, but it’s important to keep the information organized and in one place. Some options are:

  • Logging it in a simple notebook or calendar.
  • Downloading and printing a chart designed for such use.
  • Recording it on your smartphone like using pregnancy apps.

Choose a Time of Day to Count

When tracking fetal movements, it’s important into a routine. In order to accurately track movements choose a time you know you’ll be available to relax. It’s also a good idea to choose a time when your baby is typically active, which is mostly at night.

How to Count Kicks 

You should start by lying on your side and count how long it takes for your baby to make 10 movements. Resting on one side helps increase blood flow to your baby, and reclining gives them more space to move as well as prevents them from being lulled to sleep. When counting fetal movements, you want to create an environment where the baby is likely to move. Make sure to keep your legs elevated when you do this.  Also, you can do this about three times per week. 

If it takes noticeably longer than normal to reach 10 movements, or if you don’t detect 10 movements within 2 hours, drink some juice or see if you can stimulate your baby in some other way. Try it again and if your count is still low, contact your doctor for more advice. However, if the result is similar to normal for the next few days, it’s a reassuring sign that everything is OK!

The Bottom Line

Quickening in pregnancy is not only exciting when it first happens, but it also helps monitor your baby’s health and strengthen bonding between baby and mommy. Now you know how to recognize the signs of quickening, all you have to do is wait patiently for it to happen. Once your baby’s moves become stronger, you might also enjoy having your partner or loved one to feel those little kicks. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments.