Skip to main content

Fetal Movements

It's important that you do not wait until the next day to seek advice if you are worried about your baby’s movements.

Most women usually begin to feel their baby move between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. A baby’s movements can be described as anything from a kick, flutter, swish or roll. The type of movement may change as your pregnancy progresses. 

How often should my baby move?

There is no average number of movements you should feel a day. Every baby is different which is why it’s important for you to get to know how your baby moves. 

Your baby will start showing a pattern at around 26-28 weeks when they will have regular awake and sleep periods throughout the day, these sleep periods are rarely longer than 90 minutes. You should monitor movements in episodes - 10 minutes of constant movement would be considered one episode. The pattern of episodes that you feel a day should remain the same and to be at similar times. 

Movements are expected to gradually increase until 32 weeks when they will level. It is not true that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy or in labour. You should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour and whilst you are in labour too.

We do not recommend you count your baby’s movements but instead be mindful of your baby’s pattern and routine. 

When to call your midwife?

A reduction in a baby’s movements can be an important warning sign that a baby is unwell. 

If you think your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped, speak to your midwife or maternity unit immediately - our midwives are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. 

Contact details for our Maternity Outpatient Assessment Units (MOAU) across each hospital site can be found here.  

Do not worry about phoning, it is important you talk to a midwife or your maternity unit for advice even if you are uncertain. It is very likely that they will want to see you straight away. 

What if my baby’s movements become reduced again?

Following a check up and you are still not happy with your baby’s movement, you must contact either your midwife or maternity unit straight away, even if everything was normal last time. Don't hesitate to contact your midwife or the maternity unit for advice, no matter how many times this happens.

Further advice and useful information

We would advise you not to use hand-held dopplers/ monitors or phone apps to check your baby’s heartbeat. Even if you detect a heartbeat, it does not necessarily mean your baby is well. Please seek support from your midwife or maternity unit.