The Art of Counting Your Baby's Movements

The Art of Counting Your Baby's Movements

Last update: 04 June, 2018

Controlling the frequency of movement is a way to determine the level of fetal activity. The fetus should move every day at a regular frequency.

Once you begin to identify your baby’s rhythm, you can also detect any possible alteration. Keep in mind that movements aren’t limited specifically to kicks. They can also include stretches, turns, etc.

At the beginning of pregnancy, it can be difficult or even impossible to detect your baby’s movements. This isn’t because the baby isn’t moving – babies begin moving during their first weeks of life.

However, the movements are so slight that they’re imperceptible except by ultrasound. As your baby continues to grow, you may have a hard time distinguishing fetal movement with gas. However, feeling your baby fluttering in your womb for the first time is unforgettable.

Around week 26 of gestation, your baby’s movements will become more intense and unmistakable. Nevertheless, it’s even possible to reach 28 weeks before you feel your baby move.

At the same time, some women are able to begin keeping track of movements as soon as 20 weeks.

Why is counting movements so important?

The Art of Counting Your Baby's Movements

A baby’s daily movements are a normal part of his or her normal development and evolution. Therefore, keeping track of these movements provides important information about your little one’s health. 

Knowing your baby’s rhythm allows you to notice any irregularity, making it possible to detect any problems.

While this information may seem irrelevant to many mothers, it can alert us about significant changes. For example, lack of movement can be an indication that your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen.

It can also be a sign that the fetus is running out of room in the uterus. A marked decrease or unexplained absence of movement, for example, merits immediate call or visit to your doctor.

Experts agree that the sooner we can detect these types of complications, the greater the possibility of treating them. Therefore, it’s best to start counting your child’s movements every day as soon as you’re able to clearly perceive them.

How many movements did you feel today?

If your pregnancy is advanced and you still don’t know how to keep track of your little one’s movements, don’t worry. You still have time. If your pregnancy has been normal so far, then there’s probably nothing to worry about.

Just the same, we recommend you start making it part of your routine from now on. So, how do you get started? We’ll share some considerations you should take into account below:

  • Choose a specific time of day to count your baby’s movements. Make sure to repeat the process at the same time every day.
  • To choose the right time, observe beforehand the times of day when your baby seems more awake and active. If your baby is sleeping, you can gently touch your abdomen, drink something cold, or go for a walk. This will help wake him up.
  • Counting your baby’s movements after a meal or snack is ideal. This is because eating can increase your baby’s activity level. However, if you’ve been drinking caffeine, then it’s best to wait a few hours before beginning your count. Caffeine intake can alter your baby’s activity level, making for an unreliable count.
  • There are many ways to count fetal movements, and your doctor may recommend a specific technique. However, here are the basics:
    • Take note of the start time using a clock or stopwatch. This will allow you to determine how long the count takes.
    • Sit down or lie down on your right side. Place your hand on the largest part of your abdomen.
    • Start counting your baby’s movements until you reach 10 movements, then write down the end time. 
    • If you don’t reach 10 movements within 2 hours, then you should wait an hour and try again. There isn’t necessarily a need to worry – he may just be sleeping.

The time that it takes to reach 10 movements can vary between 30 minutes and 2 hours. However, in normal conditions, it shouldn’t take you more than 2 hours to complete the counting process. Keep in mind that your baby can sleep for up to 40 minutes while you’re carrying out your count.

There is no better nor greater job than that of a mother


When should I call my doctor?

The Art of Counting Your Baby's Movements

Counting your baby’s movements allows early identification of possible irregularities. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you should discuss this with your doctor right away.

For example, if you notice that over the course of the day, your baby’s movements become less frequent. 

You should also see a doctor immediately if you don’t feel your baby move at all during the day. Other reasons to call your doctor include:

  • You’ve seen a significant difference in the amount of movements you feel during the day.
  • After making two attempts to reach 10 movements over two periods of two hours each, you were unable to count 10 movements.
  • You have any other concerns about your baby‘s movement.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Kamalifard, Mahin & Abbasalizadeh, Shamsi & Ghojazadeh, Morteza & Ghatreh Samani, Fatemeh & Rabiei, Leila. (2013). Diagnostic Value of Fetal Movement Counting by Mother and the Optimal Recording Duration. Journal of caring sciences. 2. 89-95. 10.5681/jcs.2013.011
  • WHO Reproductive Health Library. WHO recommendation on daily fetal movement counting. (December 2016). The WHO Reproductive Health Library; Geneva: World Health Organization.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.