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)

English (Word)

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

  • 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 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

  • By Charlaine (not verified) on 24 Apr 2018 - 09:34

    My baby never stopped all day and night yesterday. I went to MAU and a ctg was done and said all is well. This morning baby is moving but not as excessive as yesterday. Should I worry about this changes. One day very excessive and next day low movements?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Apr 2018 - 14:58

    Hi Charlaine, Thank you for your comment.
    We would always advise to go and get checked over if you are at all worried about your baby's movements, be it too much or too little, if you have noticed a change then please go in again and be checked over. It doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong but it is better to be checked and feel reassured then to keep worrying. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Holly (not verified) on 7 Mar 2018 - 20:47

    Hi, I’m 27+5 weeks and over the past week or so I have noticed my baby’s movements have changed. They used to be more ‘smaller’ movements that I would feel low down and more ‘fluttery’. Now there are fewer movements but are ‘bigger’ more like jabs than movements. I have been checked out as reported the reduce in movement using a CTG and then had a well-being scan which showed growth, placenta, fluid and Cord Doppler to be all good and I know I can go back in anytime to be checked again, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s just the type of movement that has changed rather than a pattern? Is this possible or is any change a reason to be concerned? Thanks in advance I am constantly worrying about this x

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Mar 2018 - 12:13

    Hi Holly, Thank you for your comment.

    As babies grow, movements can be more defined then the flutters that are felt in the early stages of pregnancy, but everyone experiences them differently. However, we strongly suggest that even though you are feeling baby move, if there is a change like you describe and you are unsure then going in to be checked over is the best thing. It can be worrying when you are unsure what you are looking for but just trust your instincts, it is better to go in and be checked over then you can be reassured. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Bev (not verified) on 15 Feb 2018 - 10:36

    Hello, I'm 40 weeks plus 5. I had a sweep yesterday and since i went to bed last night i feel like baby's movements have reduced. I also feel like all the pressure I've had in my pelvis has gone and my stomach feels as what i can only describe as lighter and i feel so tired. Should i be worried?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Feb 2018 - 12:27

    Hi Bev, Thank you for your comment.

    We would recommend that if you are worried about your baby's movements then you need to call your local maternity hospital and be checked over as soon as you can. It may be that your baby has really gone down into the pelvis that is why you are feeling lighter, many women feel lighter in their chest and find it easier to breath as their baby has dropped down.

    Either way, you still need to call your labour ward or day assessment unit and be seen because of the reduction in your baby's movements. They will check baby and do a full antenatal check on yourself. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Bev (not verified) on 15 Feb 2018 - 16:11

    Thank you

  • By Chloe (not verified) on 9 Feb 2018 - 21:14

    Hi I've been to the hospital 3 times now with reduced movements have been told baby is on the small side, also have been put on fragmin, protien in my urine, if it carries on what's likely to happen sorry 1st baby so not sure what to expect.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Feb 2018 - 15:14

    Hi -Thank you for your message.
    Its great that you are keeping an eye on your babies movements and really proactive in seeking advice when you are concerned - any changes in baby's movements should always be reported and checked by your midwife/doctor.
    If you have been told your baby is measuring small, then your baby will need extra monitoring and checks, movements again really matter and change should be reported asap.
    I would advise requesting an urgent appointment with the consultant who is overseeing your care so you can discuss all the options and any concerns you have.
    And keep doing the good work and keeping a close eye on your baby's movements.

  • By Siobhan (not verified) on 28 Jan 2018 - 22:27

    Hi im 18 weeks pregnant, will sometimes feel small flutters, and what feels like little punches, then other times nothing. Is it too early to try and work out a pattern?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2018 - 16:45

    Yes, It's lovely that you are feeling some movements now but still too early to see a pattern. This should be easier after your 24th week. Best wishes

  • By Kandy Jay (not verified) on 19 Jan 2018 - 20:49

    Hi, i had two anatomy ultra sounds, all are saying the heatbeat of my baby is good, but today i saw my OB, she sad the heartbeat is very good, she is not worried. My baby is active , alwys playing, am 23 weeks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jan 2018 - 11:16

    That's great news. Glad the baby is well. Now you can enjoy the movements and be reassured by them.

  • By shany (not verified) on 19 Jan 2018 - 11:31

    Hi I'm 38weeks, my baby has been super active, but the past 2 days his movements slowed down, I'm worried something might be wrong with him.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Jan 2018 - 13:39

    Hi Shany,
    If you have noticed that your baby's movements have slowed down over the last couple of days then it is really important that you ring your maternity unit straight away and go in to be reviewed. Please do not put off calling, it is important that you and your baby are monitored today.
    Take care x

  • By Elizabeth brett (not verified) on 14 Jan 2018 - 19:46

    Hi there I previously had a still birth at 36 weeks am now 27 weeks in a new pregnancy and have been to the home today as I’ve had sluggish movements since last night. Heart beat was 156 but still my movements don’t feel right I’ve been given an appointment for the morning for my specialist but carnt stop panicking thinking will that be to late. What should I do ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jan 2018 - 12:37

    Hi. Unfortunately our hours are 9-5pm Monday to Friday so I assume that you have now been seen by your specialist. Hope all well and don't hesitate to contact us again if we can support you.

  • By Shahna Woolley (not verified) on 7 Jan 2018 - 16:43

    I am 24 and not felt the baby move she has slowed right down

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Jan 2018 - 10:41

    Hi Shahna
    If you are concerned that your baby's movements have slowed down or changed in some way, then it is ALWAYS best for you to go into your hospital labour ward/triage/day assessment unit ASAP today if you have not already done so. Just to put your mind at ease and to get a little review by a midwife and obstetric doctor. Feel free to contact us again if we can be of any further assistance to you. Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Sophie (not verified) on 1 Dec 2017 - 14:09

    Hi, I am 25+1 today. I went into my maternity triage department on Tuesday as I had experienced reduced movements for a few days. The midwife did a fundal and used a Doppler, as well as doing a urine test. The doctor and Midwife were happy with everything and said my baby had a good strong heartbeat and had no concerns about him, but I am still really struggling.
    I thought we had developed a pattern but it seems to have changed a bit Over the past few weeks. I do have a busy work life and sometimes during the day I feel him a lot less than I would expect to, and not as strongly. I suppose I am asking how often is ‘normal’?? Sometimes I can go a few hours without feeling any movements, and then feel a kick or two, to then have a period of quiet again....
    Should I be feeling him more than 4 times a day? The triage told me to phone whenever I’m concerned, but I’m worried I’ll be phoning up all the time and also stressing both me and my baby. My other half tells me not to worry, but I can’t help it. It’s my first pregnancy if that wasn’t obvious from my questions...

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Dec 2017 - 15:51

    Hi,
    Firstly I really want to stress that it is always so important to ask if you are unsure of anything, please do not put off calling or asking for advice or support if you need it, it is exactly what midwives are here for. At 25 weeks of pregnancy it sometimes is a little tricky to monitor baby's pattern, and sometimes some babies do not really ever develop a pattern that is easy to recognise. For some babies they maybe really active at night, but not move much in the day at all. In addition, if you are busy in the day as you said, it is easy to not always feel movements or remember feeling them.
    There is no specific 'normal' each baby and pregnancy is different. Please try not to get too worried or stressed (easy said than done I know!) but do ring up triage just to talk things through, or of course you can call or ring us too (0800 0147 800 or [email protected]). Take care x

  • By Hannah (not verified) on 20 Nov 2017 - 12:56

    Hi, I am 21 weeks and I am worried about reduced movement. I had my 20 week scan last week and all was ok and he has been really active. I have noticed he is really active in the morning and at night. I felt him move last night but reduced and since then I have felt nothing, is it too soon to get this checked out? Thanks

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