Your baby's movements
The moment you feel your baby move inside you for the first time is a huge thrill - proof that she actually exists. Even though you may have had an ultrasound scan, which showed your baby moving about in the womb, she'll seem much more real when you feel her for yourself.
If she's your first baby, you'll probably first notice her movements inside your womb at about 18-20 weeks. If you've already had a child, you may feel movements at 16-18 weeks or even before. The earliest noticeable movements of the baby - known as the “quickening” - cause a delicate sensation that's been likened to the fluttering of wings. First-time mothers often mistake this feeling for indigestion, wind, or hunger pangs, but the experienced mother knows what to expect, so is quicker to identify these feelings as movements of her baby.
Why your baby moves
Your baby stretches and flexes her growing limbs as they develop. This activity is vital to help her muscles grow properly and starts around the eighth week, when she begins making tiny movements of her spine. In those early weeks you won't notice her movements, but by about the end of the sixteenth week, you may feel the vigorous kicking of the now fully formed limbs, although you might not recognize them.
Your baby will kick, push, punch, squirm, and turn somersaults, and you'll often see as well as feel her movements. She'll move more and more as she grows, and is at her most active between weeks 30 and 32. The typical baby averages 200 movements a day at week 20, rising to 375 a day at week 32, but the number of movements a day can range from 100 to about 700 over a period of several days.
After week 32, it will become harder for your baby to move as she grows to fill the uterus. Although restricted, she'll still be able to give plenty of sharp kicks. When her engaged head bounces on your pelvic floor muscles, you'll feel a jolt.
Changing position and emotional reactions of your baby
Your baby needs to exercise and coordinate her growing muscles but she also moves around for other reasons.
She may, for instance, shift her position because she feels like a change, or perhaps because you're sitting or lying in a position that's uncomfortable for her. Or she may be trying to find her thumb that she'd been happily sucking before she moved.
She may also be moving around in response to your emotions. Hormones, such as adrenaline, are released into your bloodstream when you're physically or emotionally stimulated. Pleasure, excitement, anger, stress, anxiety, or fear also stimulate the production of chemicals that will pass across the placenta and into your baby's bloodstream. These hormones affect your baby, so if you get angry or very anxious, she may become agitated and start kicking and squirming. If you can, sit down in a quiet place and practise your relaxation techniques. This will help to calm both you and your baby.
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