When Do Babies Start Kicking in the Womb?

Posted by | September 24, 2019 | Fetal Development | No Comments

For so many expectant mothers, feeling the baby kick is one of the most anticipated experiences of pregnancy as it is one of those tangible pieces of evidence of the growing body within. If you are anxious to feel your baby start moving, you should be able to have this experience by the 4th or 5th month. Even though this might seem like a long time to wait, rest assured that your baby has already been practicing his kicks and jabs since the first trimester. Those tiny arms and legs might be able to twist, turn, and practice gymnastic moves with the best of them, but they are still too small for you to feel much. Soon, however, those movements will turn from questionable quakes to definite kicks.

Why and When Do Babies Start Kicking in the Womb? Do My Baby’s Kicks Mean Anything?

Somewhere during the 4th or 5th month you should begin to feel your baby move in the womb. The light, gentle movements are referred to as “quickening” and at first you might confuse them with indigestion or normal body reactions. Soon these will become stronger and you might even begin to notice a pattern of when your baby moves the most. There are many factors that might cause your baby to move more, as well as some that might make it more likely that you will feel these movements.

  • Researchers have determined that developing babies can hear the sounds of their environment and react to those sounds. Especially after the 6th month you might notice that your baby responds to loud sounds by moving more. Experiments have shown that after the 28th week your baby might be calmed by soothing sounds such as classical music or react by moving more when louder, faster music is played.
  • Just as your baby might react to music, she also might react to the sound of your voice. This could be in the form of calming your baby to sleep, or in stimulating her and causing her to react by kicking.
  • Your voice isn’t the only thing that causes your baby to react. The foods you eat can cause your baby to react by moving more in the womb. Spicy, sour, or very sweet foods can cause your baby to increase her movements. Drinking very cold beverages can also cause your baby to react to this temperature change.
  • While it might sound surprising, babies can also react to bright light sources directly near the abdomen with a startle response that might make you feel increased movements.

The second and third trimesters often include lots of movements by your baby. Your doctor may ask you to keep track of your baby’s movements, known as “kick counts” which can be indications of the health of your developing baby. Do not be surprised if you go for several hours during the day without feeling your baby kick, especially if you are very busy. The busier you are, the more likely it is that your baby will be lulled to sleep and the less likely it is that you will notice lighter movements your baby may be making. Whenever you have any concerns about your baby’s movement, be sure to check with your medical provider.

Image courtesy of bound4life.com.

Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”