When do you feel the baby kick?

What to expect each month.

Experiencing the baby kicking in utero is one of the many fun parts of being pregnant. It enables you to bond with your baby before you can hold it in your arms. It is something that many women look forward to, and if you are pregnant you may be wondering when it will start. While television shows love to portray the first kick as a momentous event that causes the mommy to call others over to feel it for themselves, it doesn’t exactly happen that way (surprise, surprise!).

Your baby’s kicks will come on slowly, almost without you noticing them if it is your first pregnancy. Things then change significantly from month to month. Here’s what to expect and how to have a bit of fun when the baby kicks.

“It’s really cool because you can kind of tell what your baby is going to be like before they are born, whether they are fast or slow or movers. Joyful, sensitive, push forward, and still, it gives you a hint at their personalities.” -Kim, mother of five

Movement in the first trimester

Hang tight! During the first trimester, the baby is far too small for you to feel any noticeable movement, although the baby will be moving and growing quickly and moving around quite a bit. Whether giving a good morning stretch or preparing to be a dancing queen, however, you won’t feel a thing.

One exception to this is for moms who have delivered before, some of which report being able to feel movement at the very end of their first trimester. These moms experience movement earlier because of experience and also because the abdominal wall relaxes earlier in subsequent pregnancies, allowing movement to be felt easier.

Let’s skip ahead to month five, the time things really start to ramp up.

When can you feel the baby kick in the second trimester? 

Month five

If you haven’t experienced feeling movement yet, it should come by the 17th week of pregnancy.

Many women describe this sensation as a “fluttering,” or as Today’s Parent writer Holly Pevzner related; as if she had just swallowed a couple of drunken butterflies.

Heard of the “quickening”? This is it. The fluttering sensation that you feel is the baby flip-flopping all around rather than kicking. Basically, it has discovered that it can move in there and begins to have impulses to do so. Because the baby is still so small (about the size of a peach at this stage), you won’t feel the cliched kicking, but rather a bubbling feeling that some mistake as gas or stomach grumbling.

Month six

By month six your baby’s limbs are almost fully developed and they will begin to love moving them. This is the time that kicks will be more distinct, as the baby has grown to a point that its limbs are big enough to penetrate the uterus. Therefore, you may also be able to feel repeated movements such as tapping of feet. It is just as common that you won’t notice these patterns.

When does the baby kick? 

Another thing that many women experience in month six are patterns or routines in baby’s busy time. You may see a pattern:

When you sleep
That’s right! During the day, your regular, rhythmic movements such as walking or typing may soothe a baby to sleep. Once you settle down for the night and these movements subside, the baby may spring into action and get ready for some exercise.

When you eat

As you continue with your pregnancy, experiencing your baby kicking after you’ve had a snack, a sugary drink, or a meal is likely to become more noticeable. Just as some substances perk us up, a baby in utero will respond to some foods and enjoy a bit of a rush.

When you’re nervous

Adrenaline is a chemical that gets transferred to your baby. Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous, but it may give baby a burst of energy that you will start to notice.

While many women report patterns such as these, just as many report that the movement stays pretty random, even through their entire pregnancy. As with all parts of your pregnancy, do not compare your journey to your friend’s, your sister’s, or your favorite mommy blogger’s.

When does the baby kick in the third trimester? 

Month seven

Are you wondering when you can feel the baby kick from the outside and thus be able to call your partner over to feel for themselves? One of the fun parts about month seven is that others will be able to get in on the fun.

While some babies have noticeable kicks before month seven, if they haven’t already, now will be the time, as the jabs will be more distinct. The little one is growing to a size and strength where it is able to create movement detectable to others.

Month eight

During the third trimester, the baby moves about 30 times each hour. It has limbs and is not afraid to use them!

Such active movement and jabbing can become overwhelming and turn from exciting to—a bit much. Doctors recommend that if you feel this way you should change positions, allowing the baby to make contact with another part of your insides or move to a position that makes the movements less distinct. If you are sitting, switch positions or walk around the room. If you are standing, move around or head to the nearest Lazy Boy. A change in position will likely lead to the baby moving and finding another way to keep busy.

Another fun thing about month eight is that the baby may respond to you. Yay – time to play! If the baby starts to kick or moves to a position where it’s elbow or foot is poking out, try giving it a little jab back and see what happens. The baby may respond to the pressure, creating a fun game for the two of you to play or to involve your partner in.

Month nine

While you may expect your last month of pregnancy to bring with it increased movement, think again. As you enter and continue on past week 30 your little one will start to run out of space, halting kicks and in utero yoga practices. What you will experience are larger movements such as the baby rolling over, which are in a class all to themselves!

So when does a baby kick during the last month? They will still find the opportunity to do so, and for some women, it translates into a pain in the ribs. If this becomes a concern for you, start experimenting with movement to coax the baby into a new position. Some women also report pressure on the cervix. Your baby is getting ready to make its exit!

For further reading:

Preparing for Birth 

Why You Have Pregnancy Brain and How to Cope

16 Weeks Pregnant: What Is Happening and What to Do