First-time expecting mothers often have questions in regard to what is and isn’t normal throughout the course of their pregnancy. One of the most common questions that doctors are asked by expecting parents, is about active babies in the womb. Mothers can often feel their babies begin to move as early as 7 weeks old. However, fetus movement is felt more frequently starting at 20 weeks old. Some mothers, especially those who are experiencing their first pregnancy, are unsure what to expect in terms of fetal movement. The information presented in this blog is meant to provide general knowledge. Its purpose is not to replace advice from your healthcare provider. For any kind of medical advice, we always recommend getting in touch with your healthcare provider.
Excessive Fetal Movement Is a Sign of a Healthy Pregnancy
According to our maternal fetal medicine (MFM) experts, even growing and developing babies need exercise. Mothers may expect their children to only move occasionally, yet frequent movement is an important part of development inside the womb. Research has shown that frequent movement in utero is important, as it allows the baby’s bones, joints, and muscles to properly develop. For mothers, each pregnancy may be different, and the amount of movement expected can vary based on the child’s size and activity level inside the womb.
Doctors often advise expecting mothers not to worry if the fetus seems to be moving too often, especially in later stages of pregnancy. This is due to the fact that as the baby grows, its space is limited. Therefore, any movement from the fetus may be more noticeable as space they have to move is somewhat constrained. It’s also important to note that your child may move less the closer to the end of the pregnancy, as they have less space to move freely.
Reasons It Feels Like Your Baby Is Moving “Too Much”
Mothers may begin to feel like the baby is moving “too much” as they start to grow and develop. Having thoughts such as, “Can my baby move too much?” is relatively normal, especially as you begin to familiarize yourself with fetal movement. However, there are several different reasons why you may feel your child move in the womb, such as the following:
- Babies require exercise, even while in the womb, to promote healthy joint and bone development. Your baby may just be performing natural, healthy movements.
- You’ve recently eaten. Babies are most active after you’ve eaten a meal, and with a full stomach, mothers are more likely to feel the movements of the baby, as there is less overall room for the baby to move.
- For new mothers, they’ll often begin to notice movement around 22 weeks. As the child grows, it begins to become more active, so you may start to feel like your baby is kicking too much or more than usual. Keep in mind that it takes some time to determine a baseline of normal activity for your baby while they’re in the womb.
These are only a few reasons you may have felt your baby moving more than usual. Ultimately, they have energy and require semifrequent exercise as they learn to move and use their bones and joints.
How Much Movement Is Too Much Fetal Movement?
Despite this information, if you’re concerned that your baby is moving too frequently, it’s important to understand how baby movement works. To begin with, mothers often experience the feeling of fetal movement somewhat differently based on varying factors. While some mothers may feel that their child does not move frequently, others may feel that their child is moving constantly. This is normal, and doctors have explained it in a number of ways.
Factors that may impact how you experience fetal movement include, but are not limited to:
- The placement of the placenta: At times, the placenta can be at the front of the uterus and create a pillow-like effect, keeping the mother from feeling the movement of the baby as intensely. This means that while the baby may be moving within the uterus, the mother has a more difficult time feeling it.
- Weight of the mother: Patients who are overweight often have a more difficult time feeling the movement of the baby, as they have a bit of extra padding to hide those movements.
- The personality of the baby: Some babies are more active than others. While this answer doesn’t calm many expecting mothers, it’s important to know that no two pregnancies will be exactly the same.
Ultimately, there’s no such thing as excessive fetal movement. Babies will often have their own activity levels. There are certain trends that most pregnancies follow, such as the fetus being the most active after a meal; although this may not be the case for every pregnancy. Most doctors will advise that the only cause for concern is if you are unable to feel fetal movement after 22 weeks. At this point, you should reach out to your doctor. While you may still be having a perfectly healthy pregnancy, the inability to feel movement may mean the need for additional monitoring, to ensure the healthy growth and development of your child.
Can Your Baby Really Move Too Much?
There are a thousand different aspects of pregnancy that may change the way you experience it, even from one pregnancy to the next. On average, babies kick approximately 10 times an hour, which is what doctors recommend you count. However, some babies are more active than others. Ultimately, doctors will look for approximately one active hour a day as the guidelines of a healthy pregnancy.
Still, some babies are more active. Activity in the womb is normal, and the overall level will vary even from pregnancy to pregnancy. While some mothers may have a relatively inactive child during their first pregnancy, different factors may cause them to have a very active second pregnancy. Realistically, there’s no scientific explanation for this beyond the idea that different children will have different activity levels, more or less as a part of their personality.
When Should You Worry?
You shouldn’t worry about a baby that moves a lot in the womb. Typically, this is the sign of a healthy pregnancy and should not be a cause for concern. Moreover, if you notice a change in the time of activity for your child, it’s important to keep in mind that in the womb, children are not adhering to a specific schedule. Their activity levels may suddenly trend toward a different time of day in an unexpected manner.
The only time you should truly worry is if you notice a decrease in movement or the absence of movement. As the pregnancy progresses, the intensity of movements may naturally decline. A reason to call your doctor would be a significant decrease in movement, resulting in less than one active hour a day. Additionally, if you stop feeling any movement from the fetus, you should reach out.
Otherwise, activity levels vary. There are ways to make you more comfortable if you feel like your baby is kicking too much, but keep in mind that they’re just exercising. If you have additional questions, please reach out to your TopLine MD provider for more information.