Baby movements in pregnancy

Fetal movements can be anything from a flutter, kick, swish or roll. Feeling your baby move is a sign that they are well.

You may feel your baby move as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy, but most women usually feel something between 18 and 24 weeks. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not notice your baby’s movements until you are more than 20 weeks  pregnant.

Tommy's has developed a guide to baby movements in partnership with NHS England on baby's movements in pregnancy. It is available in ten languages at the bottom of this page. 

What does a movement feel like?

Baby movements in the womb, also known as fetal movements or ‘kicks’, can feel like anything from a flutter, kick, swish or roll. The type of movement may change as your pregnancy progresses.

How often should my baby move?

There is no set number of normal movements you should be feeling – every baby is different. Your baby will have their own pattern of movements that you should get to know.

From 18-24 weeks on you should feel the baby move more and more. After 32 weeks, the movements will stay roughly the same until you give birth.

  • It is NOT TRUE that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy.
  • You should CONTINUE to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour and during labour.

Get to know your baby’s normal pattern of movements.

DO NOT WAIT until the next day to seek advice if you are worried about your baby’s movements

Contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately if you think your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed. There are staff on the hospital maternity unit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • DO NOT put off calling until the next day to see what happens.
  • Do not worry about phoning. It is important for your doctors and midwives to know if your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped.

Find out what should happen when you report reduced fetal movement

Why are my baby’s movements important?

Feeling your baby move is a sign they are well.  

If your baby moves less or if you notice a change in the pattern of movements this can sometimes be an important warning sign that a baby is unwell. If you get the right treatment and care as soon as you can this could save your baby’s life.

Is there anything that can affect being able to feel my baby move?

You may be less likely to be aware of your baby’s movements when you are active or busy.

If your placenta is at the front of your uterus (womb), it may not be easy for you to feel your baby’s movements. If your baby’s back is lying at the front of your uterus, you may feel fewer movements than if his or her back is lying alongside your own back.

But don’t assume this is why you can’t feel your baby’s movements. If you think your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately. It’s always best to get checked.

Your baby lying head down or bottom first will not affect whether you can feel them move.

Can I make my baby move?

No, you should not try to make your baby move. If you think your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately.

Can I use a home doppler to check on my baby?

Do not use any hand-held monitors, dopplers or phone apps to check your baby’s heartbeat. Even if you think you detect a heartbeat, this does not mean your baby is well because it might be your own heartbeat. You need to be checked by a healthcare professional.

Find out more about why using home devices are not a safe way of checking your baby’s health.

You need to be monitored by a cardiotocography machine or a midwife who can interpret the baby’s heartbeat.

Any care or treatment that could save a baby needs to be done when the baby has a heartbeat.

What happens if my baby's movements have slowed down?

Less than 24 weeks pregnant

Contact your midwife if you have never felt your baby move by 24 weeks. They will check your baby’s heartbeat. You may have an ultrasound scan and you may be referred to a specialist fetal medicine centre to check your baby's health.

Between 24 and 28 weeks pregnant

You should contact your midwife or local maternity unit immediately. Do not wait until the next day or next appointment.

You will have a full antenatal check-up that includes checking the size of your uterus, measuring your blood pressure and testing your urine for protein. If your uterus measures smaller or larger than expected, you may have an ultrasound scan to check on your baby’s growth and development.

Over 28 weeks

You should contact your midwife or local maternity unit immediately. Do not wait until the next day or next appointment. 

You will have a full antenatal check-up, your baby's heart rate will be monitored to reassure you about your baby's wellbeing. This is done with a cardiotocograph monitor.

An ultrasound scan may be arranged if:

  • your womb is smaller or larger than expected
  • you have a high risk pregnancy
  • the heart rate is normal but you still feel that your baby's movements are slower or less
  • you have had reduced fetal movements already in your pregnancy.

If the movements have slowed down does it mean my baby is not well?

Fewer movements could mean that your baby is unwell, but usually these checks reveal that everything is OK. Most women who have experienced one episode of fewer movements go on to have a straightforward pregnancy and healthy baby. However it is very important that you are checked to make sure everything is OK.

What if my baby’s movements are reduced again?

If, after your check up, you are still not happy with your baby’s movement, you must contact either your midwife or maternity unit straight away, even if everything was OK last time.

NEVER HESITATE to contact your midwife or the maternity unit for advice, no matter how many times this happens.

Download the leaflet

English (PDF)

The leaflet Feeling your baby move is a sign that they are well is also available in many other languages to download here.

Read more

Stories of reduced fetal movements

Sources

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (2012) Your baby's movements in pregnancy London RCOG

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists ( (2011) Reduced Fetal movements, Green-top Guideline No 57, RCOG.

 

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    Last reviewed on October 3rd, 2018. Next review date October 3rd, 2021.

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    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Apr 2017 - 10:09

      Hi,
      It is extremely important that you call your maternity unit and be seen immediately this morning. Such a reduction in your baby's movements is not usual during pregnancy and it is extremely important that you are seen straight away. Please call your maternity unit immediately.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 6 Apr 2017 - 18:11

      Hi for the past couple of days I have noticed that my baby hasn't been moving much as he normally does. Is this normal ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Apr 2017 - 13:08

      Hi, at this stage of pregnancy it is quite early for your baby to have developed a pattern of movement and the movements can vary from day to day. As long as your pregnancy is low risk and you have your anomaly scan recently which was all ok then just continue to monitor the movements, if you continue to have concerns then contact your midwife or if your pregnancy is high risk in anyway. If you would like to talk further then please do email [email protected]g

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 9 Apr 2017 - 19:34

      Okay thank you for the reassurance, everything was all okay at my 20 weeks scan. Thanks again

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Apr 2017 - 09:46

      If you ever are in any doubt about baby's movements , then it is always sensible to take yourself into the labour ward, triage or day assessment unit. You are never wasting anyone's time, your and baby's health is the most important factor and no midwife will be upset with you if your baby's movements are normal.

    • By michelle (not verified) on 19 Mar 2017 - 14:17

      thank you

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Mar 2017 - 10:29

      I had intense ab pain at 21 weeks from an infection or food poisoning and was asked if I had felt the baby move by the nurses and midwives I spoke to on the phone. The next morning I hadn't felt the baby move by midday - which I usually would have - so went to be checked out.

      The most upsetting thing during a very upsetting 24 hours was that I was treated like an idiot for doing so by the nurse at the hospital.

      So thank you Tommy's so much for the information you have here. It's really nice to know that I did the right thing. All is well 3 weeks on :)

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Mar 2017 - 09:40

      Very pleased to hear all is going well for you and that you found our information helpful. Best wishes and keep in touch x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 26 Jan 2017 - 08:46

      I wish I knew these things before. I lost my first baby recently (2nd January) and I still wish I had reported the reduced movement which was 2 days before I went into labor... All I have are questions.. what if? what if? what if??!!????????

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Jan 2017 - 14:24

      We are so sad to hear that you lost your lovely baby. If you would like to discuss or talk to someone, please feel able to contact us on 0800 0147 800 Best wishes x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Jan 2017 - 14:44

      Same thing happened in my life on oct ' 2016
      I am still in the same day' cant able to come out of it
      Cant forgive myself

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 26 Jan 2017 - 00:50

      HI I'm 33+4 and today i am feeling less movement from baby. In 2 hours I've felt maybe 5 kicks and a few rolls. This whole pregnancy has been a roller coaster so I don't want to go in to the hospital again because I have been in the hospital every week since Christmas for at least 2 days at a time due to having a 13mm kidney stone stuck in my kidney. Ive had 4 surgeries since ans i have to get one every week until little man is born. I have been prescribed Norcos for pain I did not take any today or yesterday so I'm wondering if that's why he seem's slowed down. I've had so much going on I'm not sure if I'm just over thinking something being wrong

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Jan 2017 - 14:31

      Hi
      Thank you for your post. I would strongly recommend that if you have decreased fetal movements at 33 weeks that you go to the hospital to be checked out. It is often those who have complicated scenarios that are at increased risk and there is no harm in being checked again. You are not making a fuss or wasting anyone's time. Take care of yourself x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 31 Dec 2016 - 04:16

      Towards the end, about a few weeks left of my pregnancy, I noticed my baby moved less. I was worried, but everytime when I went to go get check up, my baby was doing fine. The heartbeat sounds good, and the scans showed that he was doing good. However, on the day of my delivery day, it was obvious that he moved a whole lot less. Concerned, I went straight to the hospital, and they told me that I was going to give birth on that day. A few hours later, my water broke, and about five hours later, I gave birth to a healthy 8 lbs baby boy. To me, I think my baby moved less than he did earlier in my pregnancy was because maybe it was getting crowded in there.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jan 2017 - 16:26

      Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy and thank you for your comments x

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 30 Nov 2016 - 09:29

      Hello. thank you for your post this morning. Please contact your maternity unit immediately and go in so that a further assessment of you and your baby can be done. It will be like an antenatal visit only the midwives will do a trace of the baby's heart rate and you will be reviewed by the obstetricians. Reduced movements or a change in your baby's movements at 35 weeks should always be checked out so please call now, go in to hospital and be reviewed by your team and let us know how you get on.
      Tommy's Midwives

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 30 Nov 2016 - 01:28

      Hi. Im 35 weeks and ive noticed reduce movememts each day... i have been busy lately but today i noticed i hadnt felt her.move since like 4ish and its 8 now.. i drink something cold and layed down and she moved a little for like 10 mins. Should i be worried?

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 24 Nov 2016 - 10:41

      Hi im 38 weeks and noticed this morning my baby isnt moving as much as she did yesterday?? Should i be concerned?? Ive been very tired lately and not had much sleep and dont have much of an appitite and akways seen thirsty...should i consult my midwife??

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Nov 2016 - 11:10

      Our advice to you is that you should be seen as soon as possible. We recommend that you call your maternity unit and arrange to be seen today. You are welcome to call our midwives on 0800 0147 800 if you want more advice or need to discuss further.

    • By Xljhcv (not verified) on 13 Nov 2016 - 09:21

      Hi, I'm 38+1 with my second child. My baby's movements seems quite faint, no powerful painful kicks, more just twitches and little squirms. Is this normal at this stage? I cannot remember from my first pregnancy. My baby is moving regularly however I am unsure whether I should be concerned by the reduced strength in movement? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Nov 2016 - 10:36

      Hi Xljhcv. Your baby's movements do not slow down towards the end of your pregnancy. They should continue to be the same strength and pattern as you observed throughout your pregnancy. Any change or reduction in fetal movement needs to be reviewed. Please, with your pregnancy notes, take yourself in to be reviewed on your local labour ward triage or day assessment unit by a midwife and obstetric doctor. Take care of yourself.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 12 Nov 2016 - 20:34

      Hi I'm 18+3 and I've not felt baby for a couple of days. I'm getting nervous but as I'm under 24 weeks nobody wants to help. Could you please recommend anything I can do to try and get baby kicking? I'm scared she's died.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Nov 2016 - 10:31

      If you are concerned about your baby's movements, at any gestation, then it is important that you take yourself into your nearest hospital -to the labour ward triage or day assessment unit to be reviewed by a midwife. at 18/40, they can listen into baby with a doppler (sonicaid) but it is too early for you to have a CTG asssessment.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 9 Nov 2016 - 22:11

      Hi am 23 weeks pregnant and the last 3 days I have noticed my baby movements on a evening has been less noticeable, I have been busy mans not sitting down at the time it would normally move, could this be why?
      Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Nov 2016 - 10:18

      Hi. Thank you for your question. Yes, it may be that you are not aware of all the movements if you are busy. Once you get to 24 weeks these movements will become more obvious and any change in pattern should be discussed with your midwife. However if there are any known risk factors you may be seen before 24 weeks. Please call our midwives on 0800 0147 800 to discuss and we will be able to advise you better.

    • By Louise (not verified) on 7 Nov 2016 - 14:41

      Hi I'm 38 weeks pregnant .. been so busy over the weekend to even notice when she had stopped moving as much ... I have reduced movements... feeling very sick and tired too? Any ideas what's wrong with me

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Nov 2016 - 15:08

      Hi Louise.
      I would recommend that you go into your local hospital as soon as possible today with your pregnancy notes, to be reviewed by a midwife and obstetric doctor. If your baby's movements have become less over the weekend, or suddenly changed their pattern, then it is certainly best to get yourself and baby checked over. Also, if you are not feeling well yourself, it might be a good idea to get your bloods taken to test your iron levels as being anaemic (low in iron)can make you feel quite unwell. Take care of yourself!

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Oct 2016 - 15:12

      At 34 weeks I called my hospital on a Friday and mentioned no kicks but movement and pressure, was given wrong advice and lost my baby the next day, I also mentioned 2 weeks prior to a midwife about not being able to quench my thirst and this was also never picked up on! So wish more information was available at the time.... Devastated is an understatement and more needs to be done in Wales.....

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Oct 2016 - 16:30

      I am so sorry to read about the loss of your baby at 34 weeks. We agree that more needs to be done to highlight the importance of fetal movements and Tommy's is committed to raising awareness of this important issue not only among pregnant women but also amongst the professions that care for you. Thank you for your comments which are really important for us to see and understand. If we can be of help on a more personal level please feel free to contact our midwives who provide support and information on 0800 0147 800.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Oct 2016 - 12:40

      I feel so anxious about reduced movements incase it's something I don't notice in time, I'm 37 weeks. How can I put my mind at ease a bit more?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Oct 2016 - 15:35

      Hi
      I understand that the campaign to raise awareness of reduced fetal movements can increase anxiety in some women, however there are various studies that show that it actually helps to lower anxiety in others who can feel more in control and less vulnerable. By being aware of movements, Mums are more empowered to help their baby if they notice a problem. Try to turn the message round and instead of thinking about reduced movements be reassured that normal movements are a reassuring sign that your baby is well.

    • By Jagpreet kaur (not verified) on 11 Oct 2016 - 17:44

      Hi m 24+ pregnant....from last two days ....m feeling less movement of my baby like 5 times a day only ....before I was very much ....is it normal ....plz reply back

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Oct 2016 - 12:23

      Hi as you are over 24 weeks pregnant and have noticed a reduction in your baby's movements please contact your Day Assessment Unit today. The contact details should be listed on the front page (s) of your hand held maternity notes.
      If you have any other questions please feel free to call us on 08000147800.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Oct 2016 - 11:07

      If the pattern of your baby's movements has changed then you should get your self checked out at your local maternity unit as soon as possible. You do not say over what period you felt your baby's movements have changed, but you should ensure you get seen by a Midwife today to try to reassure you

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 2 Oct 2016 - 04:42

      im 24 weeks of pregnacy and l feel less movements of baby so any reason of less movement plsz tell me what i do now

    • By Asma (not verified) on 24 Sep 2016 - 12:16

      I am in 28 week my movement are getting slow is it save or I should consult the doctor

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Sep 2016 - 09:21

      Movements "getting slower" is certainly something that needs to be reviewed by the midwifery and obstetric team. If you are concerned about fetal movements, you should trust your instincts and take yourself into your local maternity unit to be reviewed asap.

    • By Sarah (not verified) on 23 Sep 2016 - 12:41

      I will be 27 weeks on Saturday and the pattern of movements has changed over the last few days. Long periods of inactivity! Only responding after eating something sweet. Those that I do feel are very mild. Feeling a bit anxious! Any advice please.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Sep 2016 - 15:40

      If you are concerned about your babies movements - in noticing a change of pattern and long periods of inactivity you definitely need to go to your nearest triage/ day assessment unit to be reviewed urgently. It has already been a number of days since you have felt that the movement has changed and so you need to be reviewed as soon as possible. Never feel like you are being annoying to the midwifery team! We would always rather that you came in and everything was found to be fine. If you are ever concerned again about fetal movements, do not wait, go to be reviewed! Even if it has happened numerous times throughout your pregnancy!

    • By Nikki (not verified) on 26 Aug 2016 - 18:34

      A week ago we had our 20 week scan to be told our baby's heart didn't look like it had developed normally. After 5 very stressful days our baby was officially diagnosed with a double outlet right Venticle and a range of other heart problems. And we got a 1in5 chance of a chromosome abnormality so we took the amnio. Later that day I felt fine a little crampy but baby still moving a lot. The next day he wasn't moving much, the next day the same.... Today basically the same!! Felt him move 4 times In total alllllll day..... I'm only 21 weeks and it says in my notes my hospital won't see anyone for reduced movement under 25 weeks. Who should I call?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Oct 2016 - 16:23

      I’m extremely sorry that we haven’t replied to you sooner. I realize you are now 26 + weeks pregnant and am hoping that the pregnancy has progressed and you are getting the support you need from your midwives and obstetric team. Please contact one of our Midwives if you want to talk things through. The Pregnancy Line is 0800 0147 800 and has a Midwife answering calls from 9am till 5pm from Monday to Friday.

    • By [email protected]'s on 18 Jul 2016 - 09:57

      Please contact your midwife or hospital immediately to be checked out.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Jul 2016 - 16:19

      Hi I am 23 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I am a little concerned as I haven't been feeling my baby move as much as usual the last few days. I have felt her move slighest bit but no way near as much as I used to. Is this normal??

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