The first time I felt my babies kick, I had frozen at the unexpectedness of it and then smiled at the new experience I was having. There were times the kicks and football matches were welcome and at other times, they were a mere nuisance, at least to my pregnancy brain.
The times they were welcome were those times I was resting, concentrating on myself, and the other times, like the middle of the night, when I could swear they were having a gymnastic tournament, given the way my bump would be ‘dancing’. And at other times, when I had been standing for a while, I would feel this vicious kick, as though to remind me, “We are still here oh.” And sometimes, I would be doing nothing, and then the racket would start. There were times, towards the last trimester of my pregnancy, I would just sit and be watching my bump jiggle. But whether or not the kicks came at comfortable or uncomfortable times, those babies had me wrapped around their little finger with those kids.
When I was pregnant with the younger twins, my older twins were quite fascinated, especially when they touched my bump and could feel the movements. It was surreal and I would talk to them, “Calm down babies, Mommy wants to sleep.” Sometimes, it worked, which earned them a thank you, and at other times, I was on my own, they were awake and playing and that was it, no sleep.
It doesn’t matter whether you are pregnant for the first time, or the fourth time, baby kicks, those fluttery movements at first, like butterflies movements, are pure joy. I don’t know any pregnant mom who doesn’t look forward to it. And there is always a softness to their voice and eyes, when they relate the first instance of feeling that movements.
And then movements become stronger and it’s still all joy, a bit uncomfortable, but all joy. Baby kicks are signs that the baby is growing fine and doing what it should be doing. These movements are called quickening.
Movement is one of the first communications your baby has with you. Here are the facts about quickening that you should know.
- Why do babies kick?
As said earlier, baby kicks are the baby’s first means of communicating with its mom. Also, babies tend to move mostly in response to what’s happening in their environment. Too much noise, light or even certain strong food spices can stimulate your baby into kicking and moving. Babies also need to stretch and move for relaxation. If you are moving about, it can be soothing for your baby; they will often relax and even go to sleep.
There is a study which found that pregnant women undertaking guided relaxation exercise experienced a reduction in fetal movements, and that is as a result of the physiological signs of relaxation in the mother, such as a lowered heart rate, and respiration rate. This in turn lowered fetal heart rates and decreased movements of the baby.
- What are baby kicks like?
What do early movements feel like? They’re almost as hard to describe as they are to recognize. For me and some women I know, it was like the fluttering of butterflies in one’s stomach. Think nervous. Or a twitch. Or a nudge. Or even like the growling of hunger pangs. Or it could even be like that feeling you get, when you are a car that’s going down a slope. Do you get it now? No matter what it feels like, it’s bound to put a smile on your face, at least once you figure out for sure what it is.
The feeling also varies from trimester to trimester. In the second trimester, you are likely to feel your baby’s kicks, when you have settled in for the night, after you have had a snack, or when you are nervous. While during the day, the motion of your own body can lull the baby to sleep.
In the third trimester, it is going to be a little tight in there, so expect to feel a lot more of the movements and that’s when your doctor might want you to monitor your baby’s kicks. According to gynaecologists, here are four points to watch out for in the last trimester;
- How often: Set aside some quiet time twice a day to count kicks, once in the morning, when activity tends to be sparser, and once in the more active evening hours.
- What to do: Check the clock and start counting. Count movements of any kind (kicks, flutters, swishes, rolls). Stop counting when you reach 10, and note the time.
- Look for: 10 movements of any kind in an hour or less is normal, though sometimes it will take longer. If you haven’t felt 10 movements within an hour: Have a snack or some fruit juice, lie down, and continue counting. If it takes more than two hours to reach 10, you might need to call your doctor. Though the absence of activity doesn’t necessarily mean something’s wrong, it can occasionally be a red flag that needs quick evaluation.
- Keep in mind: The closer you are to your due date, the more important regular checking of fetal movements becomes. By month 9, you will want to count several times a day and call your doctor, should you notice a sudden decrease in movement.
- When will I feel my baby’s kick?
For first time moms, they don’t usually recognise their baby’s movements (fidgets, squirming, sucking, gurgling, fluttering), until as late as the 24th week of pregnancy. But your baby has been moving long before that, just that the sensation is unfamiliar, and you might not recognise it for what it is.
But then, you might not feel it, because a baby’s movements aren’t very strong in the earlier stages of pregnancy. Some moms-to-be just attribute the fluttering around in there to something else. The position of the placenta could also cushion the effects of the baby’s movement. However, multigravida, i.e moms who have had a baby before, are better able to detect their baby’s movement, after all, they have been there, some even as early as the 12th week of pregnancy.
- How many baby kicks is normal?
The average number of kicks should be between 15-20 movements every day. Remember this includes all movement, not just the ones that register with you! Every baby is different, and this includes their movements. So, you might have one baby, who was less active in the womb and another hyperactive baby, everybody with their own personality.
In my own case, I had one dominant baby, who was everywhere and doing all sorts, while his sister managed one corner of my womb, where no one could even determine her sex. In this case, the movements of the big man were what I felt more than his sister’s.
Some babies literally sleep all day and move at night when you are asleep, whereas others seem to be moving all the time. Babies rest and sleep in the womb as much as 17 hours a day, usually for short duration of time. If you lead an active life, you might not notice the movements of your baby. But you will once, your body rests.
- Does baby movement predict future behaviour?
Oh, the myths that surround baby’s movements. Ranging from, “You have got a footballer in here oh” to “With the way this guy is moving around, he is going to be a handful oh!” those were statements said by radiologists, supposedly scientists, but it doesn’t necessarily hold true. A doctor from John Hopkins University has been studying links between fetal activity and future behaviour. In one of her studies, Doctor Jane DiPietro looked at fetal activity in over 50 babies, then followed up with behaviour assessments at one and two years of age. The results seem to point to a link between movement in the uterus and regulatory behaviour in early childhood but nothing definite.
Just enjoy the movements and take it for what it is, baby’s growing.
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