When can you feel baby move? Here, we look at all the moments up to and including quickening in pregnancy, from first flutters to petite punches and kicks.
Quickening in pregnancy refers to the first movements of your baby in your uterus that you can actually feel.
If you’re wondering when you’ll experience quickening — and what it feels like — then we’ve got the details.
Let’s get moving!
In this article: 📝
- What is quickening and when does it begin?
- When can you feel baby move?
- Do you feel quickening every day?
- What does quickening feel like?
What is quickening and when does it begin?
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 happens during quickening?
Quickening in pregnancy is the feeling of baby moving in your uterus.
So as for what’s happening during quickening, baby could be doing their first stretch, first wriggle ‒ their first movements.
As you’ll soon learn, 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.
When can you feel baby move?
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.
Which month quickening occurs?
So we know quickening in pregnancy can happen between weeks 16-25, which works out at about month 4-5 of your pregnancy.
How late can quickening feel?
The latest most mamas feel quickening in pregnancy is about the middle of month 5, at about 25 weeks.
If you’re not feeling baby’s first movements by then, make an appointment with your doctor, just to check on how baby’s doing.
Do you feel quickening every day?
Once you feel quickening in pregnancy for the first time, you may not feel those flutters every single day.
This is because there’s a lot of amniotic fluid around baby right now, so you feeling their teeny-tiny wriggles may be a little sporadic.
But as baby grows, they’ll be moving more regularly ‒ beyond 26 weeks, you’ll likely start to feel quickening and movement every day.
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, causing quickening.
- 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 with quickening, 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!
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.
What do first kicks feel like?
After quickening, you may notice baby starting to kick from inside your uterus.
It’s hard to tell if baby’s actually kicking during the quickening in pregnancy, but later on, baby kicks feel like ‘nudges’ from within, or pangs similar to hunger or gas.
What does quickening feel like at 13 weeks?
13 weeks is pretty early for quickening, so it can be hard to detect those stomach flutters.
But, for mamas the second (third, fourth, fifth…) time around, you may notice the quickening sensation earlier than a first-time mama.
At 13 weeks, quickening in pregnancy could feel like a sort of ‘bubbling’ in your baby bump.
Does quickening hurt?
Is quickening in pregnancy painful?
Sometimes, baby movement can feel a little painful, especially if they’re putting a little more punch into their kick.
But usually, the actual quickening itself isn’t painful ‒ more like a ‘flutter’ in your uterus.
Where do you feel first kicks?
So where do you feel quickening in pregnancy?
Most of our mamas on Peanut have said that their felt baby’s first movements lower in their abdomen ‒ like a quiver in their uterus.
How long after quickening do you feel kicks?
Of course, all of those small movements during the quickening can be 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 of quickening in pregnancy, you can expect the more established movement to occur around week 24, with the relatively big prods and jabs kicking in around week 28.
To recap, how and when you experience quickening in pregnancy will almost certainly be unique to your pregnancy journey.
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 quickening movement, it’s not necessarily a sign that something’s wrong — but always check-in with your pediatrician to be on the safe side.
💡 More from The 411:
Can You Lay on Your Stomach While Pregnant?
When Does Morning Sickness Start?
When Does Morning Sickness End?
When Does Baby Drop? And Why Does it Happen?
When Does a Fetus Develop a Brain?
What You Need to Know About Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
Your Pregnancy Week-by-Week Guide
A Quick Guide to Preparing for Motherhood