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What to expect from fetal movement

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Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 10:00 am

Pregnant women often ask when they should first be able to feel their babies move. Fetal movement can usually be detected by the 20th week of pregnancy for first-time mothers, and by the 18th week of pregnancy for women who have had other children. Some women describe a feeling of butterflies fluttering or bubbles popping when the baby is moving.

Between 20 and 25 weeks of pregnancy, movement cannot be felt regularly, but after 25 weeks, most expectant mothers can feel their babies move off and on throughout the day. If a woman who is at least 25 weeks pregnant realizes she hasn't felt her baby move at some point during her daily routine, she should sit or lie down and count the number of movements she feels. She should be able to feel the baby move four to five times in an hour. When the mother is active, it can be harder to sense when the baby is active, so staying still to count movements is important.

In the last month of pregnancy, it's a good rule of thumb for the expectant mother to check for fetal movement twice a day. Most of the time, the baby will move at least four times in the first 10 minutes of monitoring, and the mother can resume her normal routine. And if a pregnant woman is past the 25-week point and cannot feel any movement, it is important that she call her physician for evaluation.

Dr. Michael Urig is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call Urig's Ahwatukee office at (480) 759-9191.

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