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One of the most magical and memorable moments of a woman’s pregnancy is feeling the baby move for the first time, an event referred to as quickening. Although your baby has been wriggling around since about the ninth week, he or she has been too small for you to feel. But as he or she grows larger and starts running out of room those wiggles and kicks strike the walls of your uterus and become noticeable to you, usually between the 14th and 26th weeks of your pregnancy.

If this is your first pregnancy, you may begin feeling your baby a little later than more experienced moms, often not until 18 to 22 weeks. Veteran moms tend to feel their baby’s movements earlier because their uterine muscles are not as tight as a first-time mom’s, making them more sensitive to the baby’s kicks. First time moms also may mistake those first soft, fluttery kicks for gas or digestion, while second- or third-time moms know the difference. Women with smaller frames or who are slim may also feel their baby’s movements earlier than those with larger frames or who are overweight.

It is difficult to tell a first-time mom-to-be exactly what their baby’s movements will feel like because it's different for every woman. However, those early kicks may feel fluttery or like a light tapping. As you progress, the movements will intensify into firm kicks, elbow jabs, and a swishy or sloshy feeling when your baby moves its arms and legs at the same time. If you feel like you’ve become a personal punching bag, keep in mind that an active baby is a healthy baby.

When you first feel your baby move, the kicks and flutters may come only sporadically; however, as your pregnancy progresses, they should become increasingly strong and regular. Your baby may be very active one day and relatively quiet the next, but you should feel some movement every day. Many doctors and midwives recommend their patients count their baby’s movements at some point every day. There are many different methods used to keep track of fetal movements, but here’s a quick and easy one: Choose a time of day when your baby tends to be active, such as after a meal, or when you go to bed. (Try to count movements at roughly the same time each day.) Sit quietly or lie on your side so you won't get distracted. Time how long it takes for you to feel ten distinct movements — including kicks, twitches, and whole body movements. If you don't feel ten movements in two hours, stop counting and call your midwife or doctor.

Besides all those wonderful kicks and wiggles, your baby will probably have several cases of the hiccups before the whole nine months are over. . . yes, hiccups! Hiccups will feel different than kicking or movement and more like regular little spasms in your belly. Some babies get the hiccups several times a day, everyday, and maintain the same pattern after birth. Luckily, hiccups are not as uncomfortable for babies (in or out of the womb) as they are for adults, even if they last as long as 20 minutes. Once you get comfortable with the sensation of fetal hiccups, sit back, relax and enjoy the entertainment!


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