Quickening in Pregnancy: All The Details

Team Peanut9 months ago4 min read

Quickening refers to the first movements of your baby in your uterus that you can actually feel. If you’re wondering when you’ll experience it — and what it feels like — then we’ve got the details. Quick! Scroll down…


Quickening definition: What is it? When does it happen?

Put simply, quickening is the term used to describe the first fluttery sensations you feel during your pregnancy when your baby-to-be moves in your uterus.

What does quickening feel like?

Early fetal movement can be hard to detect, especially during your first pregnancy.

Quickening can feel like tummy flutters (similar to the butterflies you get when you’re nervous), bubbles, waves, or twinges. But this means that many first-time mamas confuse their baby moving for gas or hunger pangs.

It’s only when your pregnancy progresses that you’ll notice more frequent and pronounced movement — usually teeny, tiny punches, jabs, and kicks by the third trimester.

When does quickening occur?

Mamas-to-be will often experience quickening between week 16 and week 25. Those who’ve experienced pregnancy previously can recognize movements as early as week 13, as they know what to expect.

Note: If your placenta is anterior (attached to the front wall of your uterus), you might find it more difficult to feel your baby moving.

As for when quickening can happen throughout the day, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you’re moving around a lot during the day, the motion of your body can actually lull your little passenger to sleep.
  • When you’re sitting or lying down in a quiet, settled position, you’ll be more in tune with your body. This is usually when you’ll feel quickening.
  • When you’re stressed or nervous, your body releases adrenaline, and this can make its way to your little one, prompting a mini-surge in energy.
  • Likewise, if you have a snack or drink caffeine, the boost in blood sugar can give your baby a similar rush.
  • Actions like gently tapping on the belly, or sounds, like your partner’s voice, can also provoke a response, although this usually occurs later in your pregnancy.

Why is baby movement called quickening?

Fun fact: Once upon a time, the word “quick” actually meant “alive” and so if you could feel your baby stir in your womb, you were “quick with child.”

Back when Aristotle was doing his thing, the quickening represented a major philosophical milestone, where your baby supposedly first developed a soul. Nowadays, it’s just another exciting landmark in your pregnancy journey; a physical reminder that, hey, there’s a baby in there! Speaking of whom…

What is the baby doing during quickening?

There’s more to fetal movement than just kicking. By around week 15, your baby is moving their head, opening and closing their mouth, moving their arms, and sucking their thumb. Around week 20, their eyes are fully formed, and by week 26 they’re opening and shutting their peepers.

How long after quickening do you feel kicks?

Of course, all of those small movements mentioned above are hard to detect. So, that leaves you with the significant ones: punching, kicking, stretching, and the occasional bout of fetal hiccups.

After you’ve felt the flutters, you can expect the more established movement to occur around week 24, with the relatively big prods and jabs kicking in around week 28.

Quickening pregnancy movement: “Was that it?”

To recap, how and when you experience quickening will almost certainly be unique to your pregnancy. You might notice a little flutter, or you might mistake it for gas or hunger, only to be startled a few weeks later by a mini kung fu kick. Every mama-to-be has her own story.

And remember, if you don’t feel any movement, it’s not necessarily a sign that something’s wrong — but always check-in with your pediatrician to be on the safe side.