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 Aisha (not verified) on 20 Oct 2019 - 22:08

      Good evening I'm getting to 20Weeks now bus have not started feeling the baby movement hope all is well

    • By Becky (not verified) on 8 Oct 2019 - 21:06

      Hi, I'm 25 + 5 today. I have felt no movement at all during my pregnancy. Not even flutters or anything internally. I am really worried about this but my midwife has advised to wait until my growth scan at 28 weeks. An to call to my MAU when worried. However I am permanently worried and losing sleep over this. I have previously had 3 miscarriages, this is the furthest I have got with any pregnancy. But now I am extremely worried something is wrong. All the guidance advises keeping an eye on feotal movement is important and can prevent a still birth. But, how am I meant to know if there is a problem if I cant feel my baby move.

      Thank you

    • By Vuyokazi (not verified) on 19 Jul 2019 - 08:42

      Hi am 6 months pregnant ...my unborn baby's movement slowdown and I'm in pains on me back ....should I worry..,?

    • By Jerdine (not verified) on 13 Oct 2019 - 19:49

      My. Baby girl. Moves more than usual should I be worried and I also seeing blood ......what should I do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Oct 2019 - 11:40

      Any sign of bleeding in pregnancy should be assessed by a doctor or midwife. Please go to your maternity unit today.

    • By Benardine (not verified) on 17 Jun 2019 - 17:09

      Hi, I'm 36weeks + 4 days. Last Thursday I felt that my babies movement reduced drastically from the way he used to move. I just feel some odd movements I barely notice about.
      I ran to hospital to complain to Midwives. After checking I was told that my baby's heartbeat is okay. That is not a cause to worry.
      But upto now I have not notice that strong movements. What could be the cause please?

    • By Shannon (not verified) on 10 Jun 2019 - 02:42

      Hi I got in the bath at about 11:15pm tonight and my baby usually moves and wriggles a lot when I'm in it, but hasn't tonight and she has barely moved since I got out its now 02:35am it's just the odd little movement now and then but not much at all I'm just wondering do you think she could just be sleeping or do you think I should phone the maternity assessment unit to double check.

    • By Natasha (not verified) on 9 Jun 2019 - 04:05

      Hi I'm currently 28 weeks. From the beginning I've not really had a pattern of movement. Some days I will feel him less that 5 times. Other days its alot more. Theres nothing I do that gets him moving it's just random. Should I be worried? I am a bigger mum with a BMI of over 40 and also have my placenta on top. Would this effect it? Thanks

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 May 2019 - 11:54

      Hi I'm 6 months pregnant and for a day and half I haven't felt any kicks from my unborn baby,what does this mean?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 May 2019 - 14:27

      If you are concerned about fetal movements, please go to your local maternity unit today for urgent review. Take care. Tommy's Midwife

    • By Becky (not verified) on 9 May 2019 - 14:02

      Im 35+2 and ive noticed over the last couple days my babys movement has reduced. Usually of an evening hes moving all the time but last night i got a could flickers and that was it. I usually wake up with him kicking me and today none of that either. I can feel him once im sat down but there is no way near as much movement as there has been? Is it best to call midwife?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 May 2019 - 16:55

      Hi Becky,
      Yes we would strongly advise for you to call your maternity unit now and be reviewed today.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By ML (not verified) on 4 Apr 2019 - 05:39

      Hi, I’m 22 weeks 5days and I’m not really sure if I should be to concerned about a pattern of movement just yet. He seems to be different every day. I feel him move normally after meals but for the past 2 days his barley been active after dinner when he normally would be. But he has had a period of activity after lunch. When I lie on my left side I can feel slight jerking movements. Should I be concerned at this point?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Apr 2019 - 15:47

      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.
      If you are worried about your baby's movements, please get in touch with your midwife/maternity unit for a check up.

    • By Leaha (not verified) on 23 Apr 2019 - 06:54

      You should contact your midwife and let her know your concerns, they will send you for a scan to make sure your baby is OK..

    • By Mahsa (not verified) on 3 Apr 2019 - 02:43

      Im 36 weeks and my baby have bbeen supper busy always but it’s 12 hours that he just stretches himself but no kicks or his normal movements! Should I get help?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Apr 2019 - 16:42

      Hi Mahsa
      If you are worried that your baby's movement are less or have changed in any way, then you should contact your maternity unit for urgent advice-they may ask you to come to the hospital to have an assessment and the baby's heartbeat monitored,

    • By Donna (not verified) on 21 Feb 2019 - 18:41

      Hi there!
      As a first time Mum I'm worrying myself a little on the best way to monitor my babies movements. I'm currently 23+4 weeks pregnant and have been feeling healthy flutters for about 5wks now.
      Some days she does seem to not be as active though there is a mild pattern I'm noticing ; is it really only after 28wks that I should be concerned if she's been less active?
      How many hours of reduced activity should you let go by before contacting somebody? And again, is this different depending on how many weeks you are?
      Apologies, quite broad but I've had two early losses and there's still an edge of unease that she's doing okay in there!

    • By Nozey (not verified) on 8 Feb 2019 - 16:08

      Hey dear...I am 16 weeks....should i feel my baby moving everyday or is too early?...worried...first time mom..Thank you

    • By Jaz (not verified) on 8 Dec 2018 - 23:03

      I'm currently 35 weeks pregnant and have been experiencing reduced movements. I have had 6 episodes in the last 3 weeks. Every time i go to get checked out I get asked "is this your first" like I'm over reacting! Or "baby is fine she's just lazy". I'm really fed up of not been listened too. My consultant has arranged for me to be monitored twice a week (Mondays and Fridays) but I can't help but worry on days between then when she doesn't move.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Dec 2018 - 15:50

      I'm sorry you don't feel listened to and I understand how frustrating it is. The doctors must weigh up the risks of continuing the pregnancy with the risks of delivering you before term. If the scans and CTGs are reassuring and the placenta working well it would be better to continue with the pregnancy for the best outcome for the baby. Monitoring twice a week sounds a good option for you and if you have any other symptoms you are concerned about please let them know. Best wishes

    • By Divya (not verified) on 4 Dec 2018 - 05:01

      Am 29weeks pregnant, I feel very less
      or no movement when I sit down or walk. Am satisfied only if I lay down and absorb the movement that too most of the time like flicks. I did scan last week and everything was fine but the issue still continues, I couldn't feel my baby when am awake. Is tis something to be worried? What should I do to find my baby is healthy or not? I have anterior placenta and gestational diabetes.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Dec 2018 - 09:27

      Thank you for message and Congratulations on your pregnancy. I'm glad to hear your scan was all fine and there are no issues. Its not uncommon to experience stronger movements when you are resting - 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.

    • By Clare (not verified) on 17 Nov 2018 - 22:42

      Hi,
      I was out all day today, walking around and only felt small flickers. When I got home I sat for two hours as advised above and had plenty of strong movement and kicking and rolls! I feel happier now all is normal but wanted to check it’s ok to have that wait and see with baby when you have an unusually active day yourself?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Nov 2018 - 13:57

      Hi Clare,
      Only you can decide whether the movements are normal. If you feel happy about your baby's movement there is no need to do anything, but if you are concerned, please go to your nearest maternity unit for advice.

    • By Ellie (not verified) on 6 Nov 2018 - 19:03

      I am currently 28 weeks pregnant. Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed vibrating like movement where is feels like he whole baby is shaking. It usually happens once a day and last no more than 10 secs. You see the movement very clearly on the outside like very fast rippling wave, literally like a muscle spasm. I have mentioned it to the midwife who told me it was nothing to worry about. Any advice?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Nov 2018 - 14:15

      Hi Ellie,
      Other mothers have described feeling this too, however it is not really known why this happens. You are right to monitor your baby's movements and if you have any concerns then to ring your maternity unit. If the baby's movements are generally fine then just continue to monitor. If you have any pain, or bleeding or other concerns then to contact your maternity unit.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Jen (not verified) on 3 Dec 2018 - 16:28

      I had this too. The only way I could describe it was like a sudden jack hammer or strange muscle spasm for 5-10 seconds once or twice a day. Apparently it's fine (according to my doctor), and I notice it's actually gone away as I'm closing in on my due date.

    • By Inga (not verified) on 5 Nov 2018 - 15:23

      Hi I'm 22 weeks and 1 day pregnant. Second time mom and it's been so long i can't remember much, but I been feeling my son move quiet frequently but this weekend I feel like he may not be moving as much as he usually would.. then again I have been pretty busy this weekend and active so I may not notice if I'm just not feeling it. He is currently moving but I feel like it's not like as much as I'm used to feeling. I dont know if I should go into L&D just to be safe. My midwife is out of town until the 13th and the other provider in the office isint in until tomorrow, so I dont know what to do.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Nov 2018 - 16:19

      Hi Inga
      Any episode of reduced fetal movement should be investigated at your local hospital labour ward/ triage/day assessment unit. Please do not wait for your midwife to be around, another midwife will see you at the hospital. Please don't delay, go into be seen to check that all is well and put your mind at ease. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

    • By JALIHA Nibonka (not verified) on 15 Aug 2019 - 14:24

      She move only twice today and am afraid

    • By Kelly (not verified) on 24 Oct 2018 - 22:34

      Hi. I've been feeling movement including strong kicks for the last 3 weeks however today I have felt absolutely nothing. She was kicking away last night but since I have woken up she has not moved at all so nearly 24 hours. I am 23 weeks tomorrow.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 25 Oct 2018 - 13:55

      Hi Kelly, Thank you for your comment.
      It would be advisable that you call your local maternity unit so that you can be checked over as you have felt a change in your baby's movements. The midwife will listen to your baby's heartbeat and give you reassurance. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Shannon (not verified) on 20 Sep 2018 - 17:54

      Im 28weeks pregnant i no a pattern tp my baby moving not much movement since yesturday one of too movement should i be worried?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Sep 2018 - 15:43

      Hi Shannon, Try not to worry but I would suggest that you talk to your midwife and request a referral for a scan. Or you could call your fetal medicine unit and ask advice about movements and monitoring there. Best wishes

    • By Mia (not verified) on 15 Sep 2018 - 22:09

      Hi everytime I have sex my child’s movements are reduced today I’m 25 weeks and she hasn’t been moving much since last night should I be worried?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Sep 2018 - 15:38

      Hi Mia, It may be co-incidental that you are linking sexual activity to reduced movements. If you have concerns about the baby's movements, please speak to your midwife. We would expect a woman to notice a pattern of movement by about 24 weeks but of course this pattern will include some periods of rest when the baby is sleeping.
      Best wishes Tommy's midwives

    • By maletsatsi (not verified) on 19 Sep 2018 - 21:28

      i am 11 weeks the fetus was start to mobe but since last week friday there is no movements up until today, nd i feel cramps at the back bone

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Sep 2018 - 15:40

      Hi, It is too soon to feel the movements at 11 weeks. At this stage the uterus is still within the pelvis and the baby is too small for you to feel the movements. It may be that you are feeling other stomach rumbles. Please try not to worry. The movements will become more obvious and a pattern will be evident by 24 weeks. Take care

    • By Sinead (not verified) on 22 Aug 2018 - 17:52

      Hi, I was wondering do weaker movements count as reduced? 28 weeks still getting plenty of movement but very weak compared to usual, this baby has had very strong kicks from very early. Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Aug 2018 - 12:03

      Hi Sinead, Thank you for your comment.
      We would recommend that if you are experiencing any change in your baby's movements then you need to call your local maternity day assessment unit just to be checked over. It is reassuring that you are still feeling baby move but as they have changed from the normal pattern you are used to then just call to be checked over. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Ruth kulundu (not verified) on 14 Aug 2018 - 05:17

      I started feeling the swimming movement at three months at four months too now in my 5th month that is now 20 weeks I only feel two kicks aday or just few kicks and sometimes no kick and am really worried this movements ain't like the first time

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Aug 2018 - 15:03

      Hi Ruth,
      Any concern about reduced fetal movements, we suggest that you go into your local maternity unit traige/labour ward as soon as possible to be reviewed by a midwife and doctor.
      Here is a link about how to vocalize your concerns ...https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/health-professionals/free-pregnancy-resources/leaflet-reporting-reduced-fetal-movements
      Get yourself seen as quickly as you can to put your mind at ease.
      All the best, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Sarah (not verified) on 20 Jul 2018 - 15:43

      Hi, im 22 weeks (23 weeks on Sunday 22nd July). I’m a little worried not sure if I’m overthinking too much but I’ve felt the odd kick and fitter but I am quite an active person therefore may not always notice. As I’m a first time mum some of the flutters I’m not sure if subconsciously I’m thinking they are kicks or not... any reassurance will be fab! (I’m currently on a baby moon In France) Thanks Sx

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Jul 2018 - 14:57

      Hi Sarah, Most women feel movements by the time they are 24 weeks so there is no need to worry, you can enjoy your holiday in France. Have you had your anomaly scan? It can be very reassuring when you see that all is well. If you don't feel a pattern of movements by 24 weeks please arrange to see your midwife.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 26 Jul 2018 - 16:11

      Yes I’ve had my anomaly scan and all is well he’s growing and everything is fine. I also have an anterior placenta which could also cushion my movements. I’m at the midwifes on 7th August for my 25 week check up so will also mention then or get booked in earlier once I’m home. Thanks Sx

    • By Chelsea (not verified) on 16 Jun 2018 - 11:24

      Hi, im 24 weeks pregnant yesterday he barely moved at all he moved a bit in the morning and at night but only for a short period of time. As he would normally be really active throughtout the day. And this morning he has only moved a bit but still no kicking. Do i go seek help?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Jun 2018 - 16:22

      Hi Chelsea,
      Usually at 24 weeks, we would advise that you are seen by a doctor or midwife to listen to the baby's heartbeat and to make an assessment of growth. If this is smaller than expected, you would be referred for a scan at your local maternity unit. Hope this helps x

    • By Leah (not verified) on 13 May 2018 - 16:00

      Hi!
      My son was a little slow this morning but I didn’t get up until late and he’s movement doesn’t wake me - I have felt him move and role since so I’m not sure if I should be worried . Thanks x

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 May 2018 - 09:18

      Hi Leah
      Any change in movement pattern for you, if it concerns you, is worth getting reviewed. Whether that's a decrease in usual movements, or a change to the type of movements that you feel. It is always best to get it checked out, mostly for peace of mind. You can go to your maternity unit's day assessment unit/pregnancy triage for a review by a midwife and Dr there. Please remember to take your pregnancy notes with you.
      All the best
      Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

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