How do baby flutters feel?

By Jenna
Fletcher
 



Reviewed by Valinda Riggins Nwadike


What
are baby flutters? | How do they feel? | Timeline | When to speak to a doctor | Takeaway


One
of the most exciting moments of pregnancy for many women is feeling the baby
move for the first time. Often, it can be difficult for a woman to distinguish
these first movements from other sensations, such as indigestion or gas.


However,
when a woman is certain that she is feeling the fetus move, she may describe
the feeling as baby flutters.
These
soft initial movements are generally a sign that the pregnancy is going well.
As the pregnancy progresses, a doctor may instruct a woman to be aware of the
movements that the fetus is making. A sudden or gradual reduction in activity
can indicate that the fetus is in distress.
Read
on to learn more about baby flutters and what to expect from these movements as
the pregnancy progresses.
What
are baby flutters?


Baby
flutters occur when a pregnant woman feels the movement of the fetus.
For
the first 18 to 20 weeks, a woman is not likely to feel any fetal movement.
During the early stages of pregnancy, the fetus is not big or strong enough to
make noticeable movements.
However,
these timelines are relative. A woman who is pregnant for the first time may
not feel anything until around 25 weeks, whereas a woman who has had previous
pregnancies may recognize baby flutters as early as week 13.
Other
factors, such as the position of the placenta, having twins or triplets, and
the woman’s body type, may affect when she feels the fetus move for the first
time.
For
example, a woman with an anterior placenta may notice movement later than a
woman with a posterior placenta. A woman carrying more than one fetus may feel
movement at an earlier stage of the pregnancy. Petite women may also notice
movement sooner.

How
do they feel?


The
feeling of baby flutters can vary among women. Some common descriptions
include:

  • feeling
    like gas pains but without passing any gas
  • feeling
    as though there are butterflies in the stomach
  • a
    tickling sensation on the inside
  • a
    popping or bubbling sensation
  • feeling
    pokes from the inside
The
exact location of the flutters will depend on where the fetus is in the womb.
They may be slightly higher or slightly lower in different women. Sometimes, a
woman will feel flutters in the center or off to one side.
Flutters
typically get stronger over time. Eventually, other people who touch the
woman’s stomach will be able to feel the movements.
Timeline
and what to expect


For
the first several weeks of pregnancy, a woman is not likely to feel any
movement from the fetus. However, this does not mean that the fetus is not
moving, just that they are too small for their movements to be noticeable.
In
the early weeks, the fetus is moving around in a small sac of embryonic fluid.
When the first ultrasound takes place, typically at about 10 weeks, the
movement is visible but not yet easy to feel.
In
the second trimester, a woman will start to notice baby flutters.
The
exact time is impossible to predict as it is dependent on several factors, but
it will generally occur between 18 and 20 weeks. Some women may find that it
happens earlier than this, while others may not feel any movement until a later
stage.
If
a woman feels rhythmic movements that last for a few minutes at a time, the
baby may have the hiccups. These are common and not a cause for concern.
Baby
flutters will gradually become more intense until the woman can no longer
describe them as flutters. Later in pregnancy, a woman is more likely to find
her developing fetus’s movements strong and uncomfortable.
As
the fetus starts to run out of space, the feeling of the movements will begin
to change. It is not uncommon to identify body parts pushing against the skin
or feel more defined, sharp kicks.
A
larger baby’s movements can push up against the woman’s organs, sometimes
temporarily making it hard to breathe.

When
to speak to a doctor


Baby
flutters and movement are good indicators of the developing baby’s health and
growth.
In
the early weeks of development, a woman will not feel movements at all, but a
doctor will see movements when they examine the fetus during routine ultrasounds.
When
a woman first feels movements, she should let her doctor know at the next
checkup. The first movements are often inconsistent and may come and go.
At
28 weeks, a doctor will typically talk to the woman about counting kicks. By
this point in the pregnancy, the movements are usually becoming more
consistent.
To
do a kick count, a woman should find a similar time each day to relax and focus
on the fetus’s movements. Kicks and movements are harder to track while the
pregnant woman is active.
A
fetus goes through periods of sleeping and being active, just like people.
Times when it may be easier to feel movements include:

  • after
    meals
  • between
    the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.
  • after
    drinking a cold beverage
Being
aware of how often the fetus kicks or moves can help a woman sense any change.
If the fetus’s typical movements change, this could indicate a problem, so a
pregnant woman should speak to a doctor immediately.

Takeaway

Baby
flutters are a good sign of the health and vitality of the growing fetus. Baby
flutters may start very early, or they may not be noticeable until well after
week 20.
Once
the fetus’s movements become regular and stronger, they can help a woman
monitor the health of the developing baby.
If
a pregnant woman has concerns about the fetus’s movements at any time, she
should call her doctor or go directly to a medical center for examination.





SOURCE: MEDICAL NEWS TODAY
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.