When Do You Feel Baby Kick?

By
Shelley Frost
- November 14, 2017

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Feel Those First Flutters?

When Do You Feel Baby Kick?
Newnow/iStock/GettyImages

Morning sickness and sore breasts give you physical reminders of your pregnancy every day, but feeling those first kicks from your little peanut makes everything seem real. It's a milestone many moms-to-be wait for with great anticipation, but it's also one that can cause anxiety. Should you feel the kicks by now? Is there something wrong with baby if you don't?

When You Feel the First Kicks

Your little mini-me starts moving long before you can feel it. Your baby needs some time to grow before you detect the kicks, somersaults and jabs. Expect to feel those movements sometime between 16 and 25 weeks. It's a big range, and every woman's experience is different, so don't start worrying just yet.

Many women feel the kicks between 18 and 20 weeks, but first-time moms may fall closer to the 25-week mark. If you've already had a baby, you may notice the movements much earlier the second time. Some women can feel the kicks as early as 13 weeks in a subsequent pregnancy.

The location of the placenta can affect when you feel baby's movements. Sometimes the placenta acts as a cushion for the movement, so you don't notice it as early.

If You're Having Twins

Moms who are carrying twins don't feel movements earlier than moms who are only carrying one baby. If your twin pregnancy isn't your first time, you may feel the kicks earlier, just like a second-time mom of a single baby. Twin pregnancies typically involve more trips to the OB, with the potential for more ultrasounds, so you may get a chance to see your baby move earlier even if you can't feel the sensations.

How the Kicks Feel

Everyone describes the sensation a little differently, but the first kicks you notice are usually subtle flutter-like feelings. Women sometimes question whether or not they're feeling the baby. Is it a kick? Or is it indigestion from that bean burrito you craved at lunch?

Moms describe those first kicks as feeling like:

  • Bubbles 
  • Butterflies
  • Nervous twitches
  • Small pokes
  • Tumbling.

What Else Happens at This Time

Feeling the first kicks falls squarely in the second trimester, which spans from weeks 13 to 27. For many women, this is the smooth-sailing trimester. You're (hopefully) no longer feeling morning sickness, but your tummy is still relatively small, so you can move around easily. Many women feel increased energy levels during the second trimester. This is also the time when you start to show, which is another exciting milestone. Break out your maternity clothes, and wait for those first kicks in comfort.

Expect to have your big anatomy ultrasound somewhere between 18 and 22 weeks. If you haven't felt baby kick yet, that ultrasound can be reassuring. Even though you can't feel the movement, you can see just how active your little one is. If you want to find out the gender of your baby, this is the ultrasound to do it. Other important screenings, like the gestational diabetes test, also happen during this trimester.

Your baby goes through some big changes during the second trimester, as well. Organs, nerves and muscles are up and running. By week 14, your baby's gender may be visible, and his legs are developing more fully. Around week 16, your baby's eyes start moving, and at 17 weeks he grows toenails. When he reaches 18 weeks, your baby can start to hear, so sing, read and talk to your little one often. By 25 weeks, he may start responding to your voice. Other baby milestones during the second trimester include thumb sucking, visible hair, fingerprint and footprint formation, and lung development.

When You Should See Your Doctor

Worrying is part of the job when you're a mom, even before your little one makes her big debut. But don't worry too much if she seems late to the kicking party. She's likely moving around like crazy in your uterus. You just can't feel it yet. If you're a first-time mom, the wait can be even longer. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned, but remember that many new moms don't feel the kicks until 25 weeks.

If you notice a big decrease in movement once you start feeling your baby kick, especially later in the pregnancy, start counting the kicks. Babies fluctuate in activity level, but if you notice a major decrease in movement that lasts for a few days, contact your doctor to make sure everything looks fine.

About the Author

Shelley Frost relies on her experience as a mom and working professional to cover topics on sites such as Working Mother and Intuit. She runs her own business and has previous experience working in educational management, insurance and software testing. She routinely covers parenting, education and business topics in her freelance career.