Fetal Movement: Measuring Your Unborn Child’s Health

Each pregnancy journey is unique but every mom would agree that one of the most exciting landmarks of it is when they first feel the tiny movements of their unborn baby. It is an instrument to measure their healthiness and development.


But what if the fetal movement is weak and inconsistent? Does it mean the baby is not doing well inside? Experts encourage parents to take note of the pattern of movements and equip themselves with the following advice and information.

What is Fetal Activity?

Fetal activity includes rolls, hiccups, and kicks of the unborn baby. It can be described in four states: from least to most active. There is what we call the quiet sleep where no movements are made, the active sleep where the baby can still kick and roll and the quiet awake state where he or she can only their eyes. In the active awake state, the movements are stronger and more obvious.

These movements might be small and gentle but it is an indication that your unborn child is getting the right amount of oxygen and nutrients needed before you give birth.

When Can You Feel It?

It is a case-to-case basis since only a few moms reportedly feel the gentle movements of their baby in as early as 12 weeks but most of it is unnoticeable. It is referred to as the “quickening” and most mothers can feel it at around 18-20 weeks of pregnancy. Around 20-24 weeks, the movements will be more frequent.

If you have been pregnant before, chances are you will feel the movements at 16 weeks. As the baby develops and grows, the number of movements and the types of it will also change along with their activity pattern.


Fetal movements are like gentle reminders from our babies that they are doing well every day. But take note that every baby is unique. Hence, the frequency of movements might differ from the other.

Understanding the Pattern of Movements

There are plenty of reasons why the fetal movement tends to be weak and most of it should not cause you worries.

  • Afternoon and evening periods are considered the peak of the baby’s activity. They are also sleeping that last between 20-40 minutes to 1 hour long and will not move during this period. It is called the sleep-wake cycle that develops in around 7 months of pregnancy.

  • If by 24 weeks or 6th month of pregnancy and you are still not feeling any movements, consult your midwife or doctor for an assessment. Between 24 to 28 weeks, you will also have a full antenatal check-up.

  • Until 32 weeks, the movements will increase and will become more noticeable. As you near term, the baby will get ready and position its head in the pelvis. At this time, they will not be able to move much compared to when they were still smaller in the womb.

  • Fetal movements might decrease when you are from 8-9 months pregnant. Depending on your body built and the level of an amniotic fluid present in the uterus, the movements might feel weak or strong.

  • If the mother is constipated or has diarrhea, the baby will not get ample oxygen and might make it difficult for her to feel the movements.

  • You are also less likely to feel the baby move when you are busy or active or if the placenta is in front of the uterus or when the baby is lying head down.

  • There are types of drugs, sedatives and pain relievers can also get into the baby’s circulation and can make their movements weak.

Keep Track of their Movements

While you are in labor, the baby should also move right up too. These fetal movements are important to determine their well-being but you also need to consider the factors we mentioned.

Doctor’s advice soon-to-moms to be aware of the baby’s movement pattern by using a chart. There are kick charts used to monitor it but they are somehow, inaccurate and unreliable.


If you are concerned and feel like the baby is moving less, you can toss and turn in bed first or gently massage your belly to see if he or she will react. Lie on your left side and support your belly with a pregnancy body pillow.

Focus and monitor the sensations from the baby. Others tend to feel stronger kicks when they eat chocolate or after soaking in a tub with warm water.

There are rare cases where babies experience a condition which affects their nerves and muscles, causing them to move very little to not at all. However, if you notice that your child is moving less and infrequent or if there is a change in the pattern, seek professional help immediately.

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