Your Baby’s Movements in Pregnancy

Patient Leaflets Team

  • Reference Number: HEY-721/2018
  • Departments: Maternity Services

Your Baby’s Movements in Pregnancy - Information For Mothers

You must not wait until the next day to seek help if you are worried about your baby’s movements.

What are normal movements?

Most women usually begin to feel their baby move between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy but some will not become aware of movements until after this. Baby’s movements in pregnancy can be described as anything from a kick, flutter, swish or roll. The type of movement may change as your pregnancy progresses.

How often should my baby move?

There is no specific number of normal movements. Your baby should develop an individual pattern of movements that you will become aware of. They will have sleep periods during which they will not move, but these rarely last longer than 90 minutes. The number of movements tends to increase until 32 weeks of pregnancy and then stay about the same. It is important to remember that you should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour and throughout labour too.

Why are my baby’s movements important?

Feeling your baby move provides reassurance that they are well.

  • A reduction in your baby’s movements or a change in the pattern can sometimes be an important warning sign that a baby is unwell.
  • Reduced movements can be associated with stillbirth. This is a risk for any pregnancy.
  • In most cases the baby will be born healthy, but it is important to get checked.

What do I need to do if I am worried about my baby’s movements?

If you feel that your baby is not moving as much as usual, you should lie down on your left side and focus on the movements for the next 2 hours. If you do not feel 10 or more separate movements during these 2 hours, you should seek help as soon as possible (see below).

1 in every 200 births in England ends in stillbirth.

Your baby’s movements are an important way of checking they are well.

If you are less than 28 weeks pregnant you should contact your Community Midwife who will arrange to see you as soon as possible. If you have any difficulties with contacting your Community Midwife please contact the Antenatal Day Unit.

If you are more than 28 weeks pregnant you should contact the Antenatal Day Unit at the Women and Children’s Hospital who will arrange to see you as soon as possible, telephone: 01482 382729. If you telephone when the Antenatal Day Unit is closed the call will automatically be transferred to Maple Ward who will be able to help you.

What will happen when I am seen?

The care you will be given will depend on your stage of pregnancy:

If you are less than 28 weeks pregnant the midwife will listen to your baby’s heartbeat and perform a full antenatal check-up. If there are any additional concerns it may be necessary to refer you to the hospital the same day for further assessment.

If you are over 28 weeks pregnant the Antenatal Day Unit midwives will listen to your baby’s heartbeat and perform a full antenatal check-up. They will put you on a machine that monitors your baby’s heartbeat. This can last up to an hour and provides information about your baby’s well being. Many babies will start to move normally after this and you will usually be able to go home. In some cases it may be necessary for you to be seen by a doctor and an ultrasound scan may be arranged. Very rarely it may be safer for your baby to be born as soon as possible.

What if my baby’s movements are reduced again?

If after discharge you are still not happy with your baby’s movement, you must contact the Antenatal Day Unit immediately, even if everything was normal when you were initially seen. Never hesitate to contact the Antenatal Day Unit for advice; no matter how many times this happens.


 Do not be tempted to use a home monitor, Doppler, or phone app to check on the health of your baby at home. Even if you detect a heartbeat it does not mean your baby is well.

  • Go to sleep on your side from 28 weeks of pregnancy but do not worry if you wake up on your back during the night, simply roll back onto your side.
  • It is not true that baby’s move less towards the end of pregnancy.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Antenatal Day Unit on Tel No: 01482 382729 or the Community Midwives Office on Tel No: 01482 602658

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

QR code to open leaflet