During your pregnancy, you'll feel your baby move. For example, your baby may kick, hiccup, roll, turn, and twist. These movements are common and expected. As your baby grows, these movements will get stronger.
But sometimes you might feel a movement that surprises you. You may wonder what it means. It's a good idea to learn about the different kinds of movements. They include:
- Fluttering, butterflies, or bubbles.
You'll probably start to feel your baby move sometime between 16 and 22 weeks. At first, these small movements feel like fluttering or "butterflies." Or they may feel like gas bubbles. These first flutters are sometimes called "quickening."
Around 21 to 24 weeks, you may start to feel some jerky movements inside your belly. You might even see them on the outside. Repeated jerky movements usually mean that your baby has the hiccups.
Hiccups are perfectly normal. They can last from a minute to an hour. You may feel your baby have hiccups now and then throughout the rest of your pregnancy.
- Kicks, twists, and turns.
As your pregnancy goes on, you may feel some changes in your baby's movement. Around 25 to 28 weeks, your baby may start to kick and stretch. And you may notice that your baby does less turning and twisting and more squirming or jerking. Around 30 to 32 weeks, your baby turns less and kicks and jabs more.
At about 28 weeks, you may feel your baby move from head-down to feet-down, or even sideways.
When and how often babies move
After 18 to 20 weeks, you may notice that your baby moves more at certain times of day. For example, when you are active, you may feel less movement than when you're resting quietly. Babies find the activity and noise of daytime hours to be soothing. So they often sleep during the day and are awake at night.
Starting at about 30 to 32 weeks, you should feel your baby move several times a day. Babies usually sleep 20 to 45 minutes at a time, and then are more active at certain times of day.
By 40 weeks, your baby has grown larger and doesn't have much room to move around. You will probably notice less "big" movement than before.
Call your doctor or midwife right away or seek immediate medical care if you notice that your baby has stopped moving or is moving less than normal.
Current as of: July 11, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.