Tommy's PregnancyHub

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.
Maternity care is still essential during the coronavirus pandemic and services are still running. If you have any concerns about your baby's movements call your midwife or maternity unit immediately.

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. Get to know how your baby moves.

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 kicks and 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 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.

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.

Review dates

Last reviewed: 3 October, 2018
Next review: 3 October, 2021