What does it feel like when a baby kicks?

by wrylilt

A first pregnancy can be exciting and scary - and you often don't know what to expect and when. So how do you know when baby is kicking? What does it feel like?

A first pregnancy comes with many new experiences - not least of which is the feeling of your baby moving inside your uterus. Of course this can also sound scary - there is a live person inside you, who is still outside your control. Will it hurt? Will it tickle? Will it feel weird? Those are a few questions newly pregnant women often ask.

First Baby Movements

You should experience the first movements of your baby somewhere around 16-18 weeks. You may not even realize what these movements are, but as they grow more insistant, you may start to suspect they're not just your lunch getting digested.

So what do the first movements feel like? Usually the feeling resembles tiny bubbles in your lower stomach. It may feel like you've got butterflies floating around in your intestines - this is probably  your baby experimenting with his hands and feet and what they can do - but since he is so small, they make little impact at this stage.

Don't worry if you don't recognise these early movements - baby will soon grow enough to definitely let you know he's happy and kicking!

20+ Weeks and Second Trimester Baby Movement

As  you reach and pass the halfway mark in your pregnancy, your baby will be big enough to make a definite impact on your uterus walls. 

So what do these kicks feel like? At this stage, the feeling will be similar to someone lightly kicking your body through a pillow - the uterus, muscles, fat and skin help absorb the gentle blows but you'll definitely be able to feel it. 

Third Trimester Baby Kicks

Once you reach the third trimester, baby will definitely be making his presence known, often doing flips and stretching his arms and legs. One mother said that her very active baby reminded her of "having swallowed a live snake", but don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds. However baby is likely to jump at loud noises and surprise you with a quick kick quite regularly. As your uterus thins, these kicks will also be more noticeable.

Baby Movement FAQ

Remember: If your baby hasn't moved for awhile, you should carefully monitor him for two hours - if you don't feel at least ten movements, you should contact your doctor or carer.

Q: Does it hurt when baby kicks?

A: During the first and second trimester, your baby is unlikely to be strong and big enough to hurt you with his movements. However in the third trimester, you may occasionally get a kick in the ribs or bladder that can be painful, and some stretches may feel very strange and uncomfortable. Babies in the third trimester also like to push out a foot or hand - you can gently rub the spot so they pull the limb back.

Q: Is it a bad sign if baby kicks too much?

A: No. It's a good sign! When babies are hurt or sick in the uterus, they conserve their energy by not moving. A baby that moves a lot is healthy and happy.

Q: If baby isn't kicking as much as he should, how can I make him move?

A: A baby will sleep for a good part of the day - so he may just be asleep. However if it's been several hours and you're worried, try drinking some ice cold water and lying on your left side (the left side gives your baby the strongest blood flow.)

Q: Baby is keeping me awake at night. How can I put him back to sleep?

A: Just like a baby that's outside of the womb, the best way to put him to sleep is by rocking - so try walking around the house for a few minutes. You can also play some soft music - baby will hear and often go to sleep.

Updated: 09/04/2011, wrylilt
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TerriRexson on 09/08/2011

I reckon both of mine broke my waters early by kicking like crazy! Definitely brings back memories.

MaxReily on 09/06/2011

Wonderfuly informative--it's been a long time, but I remember those first movements feeling like bubbles, just as you described. This lens has great information for expectant mothers wondering what to expect from a first pregnancy

barbarab on 09/05/2011

beautiful! took me back a couple of decades!

sheilamarie on 09/05/2011

Wonderful topic to write about! I remember the first time I felt my baby move. It brought tears (of joy!) to my eyes. Such a warm memory. I'm grateful to have had that experience of connection.

Guest on 09/05/2011

I just saw something on TV about a woman getting her ribs broken from the baby constantly kicking. I'll pass on the baby thing, thank you!

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