From the moment most women find out they're pregnant, there's usually a natural anticipation that builds before the first time they feel their baby move or kick. These movements, otherwise known as "quickening," play a crucial role in helping mothers feel more connected with their own bodies as well as with the baby they're growing inside of them.
But when exactly does that start? POPSUGAR spoke with Dr. Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN, women's health expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period, about the emotional and beautiful milestone. "Most women feel the beginnings of fetal movement before 21 weeks gestation," she says. "In a first pregnancy, this can occur around 18-21 weeks gestation, and in following pregnancies, it can occur as early as 15-16 weeks gestation."
It can be hard to detect movement if the mother is overweight or if her placenta is positioned close to the stomach, Dr. Ross adds. And since the movements will initially be infrequent, they can often be dismissed as gas or bloating symptoms. But you shouldn't really be concerned about how much activity you can feel in the womb until the third trimester.
"Early fetal movement is felt most commonly when the woman is sitting or lying quietly and concentrating on her body, usually between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.," she explains. "The mom may also feel fetal movement after eating or drinking a sugary beverage." Dr. Ross suggests following your baby's kick counts, especially in the third trimester, to ensure the baby moves 10 times in an hour, at least twice a day. If you notice there's less or decreased fetal movement during the day, she suggests "drinking a large glass of juice and laying on your left side to see if your baby will move with a sugar boost and blast of hydration." And then by the third trimester, your baby's movements will be hard to ignore!