Your baby's movements
Your baby's movements and kicks during the third trimester are signs of a healthy pregnancy and one of the best indicators of your baby's well-being. Learn your baby's movement pattern by counting their movements daily starting at 26 weeks of pregnancy.
If your baby is not moving as usual or if their movements have slowed down, immediately contact your health care provider or go to the nearest maternity. Don't wait! A sudden change in your baby's movements can indicate an urgent problem that could put your life or your baby's in danger.
At the start of your third trimester, your health care provider should discuss with you the significance of your baby's movements and how to count them. Bring with you the pamphlet "Learn how to count your baby's kicks" to your appointment in order to initiate the conversation.
When will I feel my baby move?
Some women will feel their baby move as early as the 13th week of gestation; others a few weeks later. Once at the 24th week, you should feel your baby move regularly, even if your placenta is placed in front of the uterus (placenta previa).
At the start of the 3rd trimester, you should already be familiar with your baby’s movements. During the course of a day, you will feel your baby move more or less. When your baby is resting or is sleeping, it's normal for them to be less active.
Your baby’s movements can consist of kicks, pokes, rolls, flutters or any other movement you can feel from your baby. Note that hiccups do not count as a movement.
Every baby moves differently. Some babies are more active than others. There is no magic number of movements you should be feeling. Learn what is normal for your baby.
Beginning at week 26 of your pregnancy, you can start counting your baby’s movements daily. Continue to count all through your 3rd trimester until delivery.
How to count my baby's movements?
Your baby is more active at certain times of the day and less active while they are resting. In the course of a day, it can happen that you don’t remember if you’ve felt your baby move, either because your day was busier or you were more distracted than usual. Stop and take a moment to count your baby’s movements.
The best time to count your baby’s movements is in the evening when babies are usually more active. But any time of the day is fine. Take advantage of this time to bond with your baby. Lie down comfortably on your bed (half-sitting position or lying on your side) so you can feel your baby’s movements (kicks, pokes, rolls, flutters, etc.).
There are two common ways to count your baby’s movements. Both methods are equivalent. Choose the one that works best for you.
Method A: Count the number of movements from your baby over a certain period of time (ex: 20 or 30 minutes). The number of movements should be similar from one session to the next.
Method B: Count the number of minutes it takes your baby to make 10 movements. The time it takes should be similar from one session to the next.
If you feel your baby is moving less or differently than usual, don’t hesitate and immediately consult your health care professional or go to the nearest maternity.
To help you count and keep track of your sessions, you can download some free apps. We suggest the following one:
Flutter Care is a Canadian app that follows your pregnancy while providing you with information for a healthy pregnancy. Flutter Care also helps you count your baby's movements during the third trimester. It is only available in English.
The American app Count the Kicks is available in 16 languages, including French. It allows you to count your baby's movements during the third trimester and even to send your data directly to your health care professional.
When should I consult?
Trust your instincts! If you are worried your baby is moving less than usual or they are moving differently, don’t wait! Have your baby checked immediately by your doctor, your midwife or at the hospital.
The maternity ward of the hospital is open 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays. There is no reason to wait. The staff is there for you. You will not bother anyone. It is better to have gone for nothing than to not go at all.
When you report a change in your baby’s movements, you should receive a complete evaluation to ensure your baby’s well-being. Insist on having a non-stress test.
In some cases, a baby in distress can also have sudden fluttering or brisk, almost violent movements or can start moving abnormally. In all cases, don’t hesitate to consult!
Is my pregnancy at risk?
If your pregnancy is at risk, you should be followed by a specialized clinic. A pregnancy can be at risk for many reasons, for example if you have one of the following conditions:
intrauterine growth restriction
pre-existing renal disease
placental abruption or stillbirth in a previous pregnancy
Even if your pregnancy is not considered at risk, your risk of stillbirth could be higher if:
you are older than 35
you suffer from obesity
you smoke, take drugs or drink alcohol during your pregnancy
this is your first pregnancy
Whether your pregnancy is normal or at risk, counting your baby’s movements is a healthy daily routine to follow!
Why are my baby's movements important?
Your baby's movements are one of the best indicators of its well-being. It has been proven that a reduction in a baby's movements during the thirs trimester of pregnancy can indicate problems such as:
umbilical cord complications
fetal growth restriction
Monitoring your baby's movements requires no technology and can be done daily. As your third trimester approaches, have an honest discussion with your health care professional about the significance of fetal movements and how to count them.
BabyKicks.ca’s mission is to inform parents and health care professionals about the importance of a baby’s movements during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy in the hopes of reducing the number of stillbirths in Canada.
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