You probably waited weeks to feel that precious moment when your baby first fluttered enough so that you could sense him or her in your womb. Now, however, you are 23 weeks along and you haven’t felt your baby move for several hours today. Should you be concerned?
There are many factors that can influence your baby’s movement and when you feel those gentle flutters in the second trimester (or toward the end of your first trimester, especially if this is not your first pregnancy). Most often somewhere between 15 and 24 weeks you will notice small flutters that at first might be difficult to distinguish as actual movements. This is known as quickening, and it is usually present by the 20th week. You have probably heard many women describe them as the sensation of butterflies flitting in your abdomen. Sometimes these first movements can also be mistaken for hunger pangs, gas, and general stomach rumblings.
However, if you have been fairly regularly and consistently been feeling your baby move, but have now noticed that it has more than a couple of hours since you last felt movement, you might be worried that there is something wrong.
Tracking Baby’s Movements
By the end of the second trimester most babies are kicking frequently and you will feel stronger movements the closer you get to that 26 week mark. At 23 weeks, if you have been feeling regular, mild to moderate movements, you should pay attention to any changes in those behaviors. This does not, however, mean that anything is necessarily wrong with your baby. There are many reasons why the movement patterns might be changing.
- Some studies show that in utero, babies move on average about 30 times each hour. This definitely does not mean that moms will feel all of these movements because it accounts for many subtle movements as well.
- Babies also have periods of alertness and sleep, just like children and adults do. In utero babies respond to the changes in your blood sugar levels and activity, which actually can account for why many babies become more active at night just as you are trying to fall asleep.
- Babies also respond to stimuli such as sound and touch, and their movements might coincide with stimuli that are introduced into their environment.
- Keep in mind that babies during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters tend to sleep for approximately 20 to 40 minutes at a time, so this can influence how often you are feeling your baby kick.
- If your baby is facing toward your spine or you have a condition known as an anterior placenta, where the placenta is resting just behind your belly button, you might not feel kicks on your abdomen as easily.
If you notice that your baby has not moved for several hours, especially during a time period that he or she might typically be jabbing and kicking, begin tracking the time. Start with the time you last noticed movements. Keep in mind, however, that your baby might have been moving but you were too busy to notice or in a position that did not allow for you to feel the sensation as you typically would have.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that mothers track their babies’ movements by noting the time it takes for the baby to move 10 times. The average expected rate doctors would expect mothers to feel movement is 10 movements in a two-hour time period.
If after two hours you haven’t noticed any movements, try again later that day when you have changed activity level or have eaten something. Contact your caregiver if after the second two hour monitoring period you haven’t felt any movements, or if over the period of one to two days your baby’s movement is considerably less than typical for what you experience. Your physician will likely have you come in to check your baby’s heart rate, known as a non-stress test, and discuss your concerns.