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How often should baby kick? Expert advice from an OB-GYN

Health

How often should baby kick? Expert advice from an OB-GYN

For expectant mothers, a baby’s first kicks are a magical moment. They’re also an important way to monitor the baby’s health as pregnancy progresses.
“Babies are constantly moving inside the mom’s uterus,” says Dr. Rebecca A. Keith, an OB-GYN at Tidelands Health Women’s Center who provides a wide range of women’s health services, including high-risk obstetrics care. “Babies are pretty much moving all day.”

Each pregnancy different

Mothers typically start feeling baby’s movements around the fifth month of their pregnancy (16 to 20 weeks). Babies less than 20 weeks aren’t usually large enough to feel as they move, Dr. Keith says.
Each baby has its own personality, and each pregnancy is different when it comes to sensing a baby’s movements. First-time mothers may not realize they’re feeling kicks – mistaking them for gas or “butterflies.”

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Experienced mothers often can identify kicks more clearly because they’ve experienced them before, Dr. Keith says.
During some pregnancies, mothers may not feel as much kicking because the placenta has anchored on the front of the uterus, placing a thick padding between mom and baby. Overweight or obese women may find it takes a little bit longer to feel movement because the abdominal wall is thicker.

A measure of health

After about 28 weeks, kicks become an important way to determine how the baby is doing.
For mothers concerned that they aren’t feeling their baby’s movements, Dr. Keith has a few recommendations:

  • Have something to eat or drink.
  • Find a quiet, comfortable place.
  • Count the movements you feel over two hours.

A healthy baby should kick about 10 times in two hours, though it’s possible to count that many kicks in 10 minutes, Dr. Keith says.

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A lack of kicks could just mean the baby is sleeping. But it could also be an indication of more serious issues that could put the baby at risk. If you can’t feel 10 kicks in two hours, contact your physician or other qualified care provider for advice on what to do next.
“This is definitely a test of fetal well-being,” Dr. Keith says. “When babies aren’t moving we need to figure out why.”

Meet the Expert

Dr. Rebecca Keith

Tidelands Health OB-GYN Dr. Rebecca Keith provides a wide range of women’s health services including family planning, pregnancy management, high-risk obstetrics care and advanced laparoscopic surgery, which is a minimally invasive technique to examine the abdomen and a woman’s pelvic organs.

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