At some point in your pregnancy, you will feel your baby move. For example, your baby may kick, hiccup, roll, turn, or 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. Most pregnant women don't have any serious problems. But it's a good idea to learn about the different kinds of movements and when to call your doctor.
Fluttering, butterflies, or bubbles
Sometime between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy, you will start to feel your baby move. At first, these small movements feel like fluttering or "butterflies." Some women say that they feel like gas bubbles. These first flutters are sometimes called "quickening."
By week 24, you may start to notice some jerking 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 anywhere from a minute to an hour. You may feel your baby have hiccups through the rest of your pregnancy.
Kicks, twists, and turns
After 18 to 20 weeks, you will feel your baby move. And 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 are resting quietly. Believe it or not, babies find the activity and noise of daytime hours to be soothing. So they often sleep during the day and are awake at night.
As your pregnancy continues, you may feel some changes in your baby's movement. At 22 to 26 weeks, you may feel your baby start to kick. And you may notice that your baby does less turning and twisting and more squirming or jerking. At about 28 weeks, you may feel your baby move from head-down to feet-down, or even sideways.
Starting at about 30 to 32 weeks, you should feel your baby move several times a day. Your baby now turns less and kicks and jabs more. He or she sleeps 20 to 45 minutes at a time and then is more active at certain times of day.
At 40 weeks, your baby has grown larger. He or she doesn't have much room to move around. You will probably notice less "big" movement than before.
When to call your doctor
Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you notice that your baby has stopped moving or is moving much less than normal.
Current as of: February 11, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Rebecca S. Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology