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The Pregnant OB Part 2: First kicks

Posted on Feb. 9, 2015 ( comments)
Pregnant OB

I'm 16 weeks pregnant now. Time sure is flying by.

Yesterday evening, as I lay in bed, I started to feel a few thumps. Is that gas? Perhaps my intestines were actively digesting my large dinner?

The thumps persisted. I put my hand on my belly. Something was happening in there!

My husband was busy and quite distracted with work, but I grabbed his hand and placed it on my belly, too, instructing him to wait and focus. Nothing.

Of course, I thought, I must be crazy. This is too early to feel fetal movements, right?

But then, a few minutes later, I felt another thump. And another! I grabbed Ben’s hand once more. This time he felt it, too! I wasn’t crazy after all.

Every woman is different

It seems like every woman is different when it comes to the moment in her pregnancy that she first starts feeling her baby move.

The traditional thinking is that multiparas — a term we OBs use for women who have already had children — notice a thump earlier than first-time moms, probably because experience helps them remember what to look out for.

I’m not sure if any data supports this mythos, but it’s an interesting idea. What is known for sure is that there is something very special about feeling another little human being inside of you, actually kicking! It’s moving! You suddenly realize — it’s alive!

In the beginning, the only way to know you’re pregnant is via waves of fatigue, nausea and missed periods.

For some women, there are no clues at all in the early stages. In fact, I have some clinic patients whose chief complaint is that they “don’t feel pregnant.”

I help them understand this is usually temporary. By 20 weeks, most moms have felt some movement; by 25 weeks, the baby will definitely be feisty and healthily kicking away!

The reassurance of a kick

The beautiful thing about feeling your baby move is the reassurance that it’s alive and well. This becomes more and more important as the pregnancy continues, especially in the third trimester, when a woman is strongly encouraged to keep track of her baby’s kicks.

If you’re pregnant and at any time notice your baby’s usual movements are reduced, it can be a warning sign. Usually it’s due to your little one's sleep cycle, but in rare circumstances, it can mean they are distressed.

Regardless, in these circumstances, never hesitate to go to your OB immediately.

Unfortunately, I have diagnosed the demise of full-term fetuses in women who noticed decreased movement for too long — one woman for several days — before they finally came to the hospital.

This is a tragic but luckily rare situation. Most of the time, pregnant women and their OBs catch any problems early so they can intervene and save the baby.

As my pregnancy continues, I know the movements I started to feel this week will transform in meaning in the same way they do for all pregnant women — from exciting flutters to important markers of my baby’s well-being.

Related stories
The Pregnant OB Part 1: How to find the right doctor
The Pregnant OB Part 3: Holding my breath

More information

Find an excellent MultiCare OB/GYN to guide you through a healthy pregnancy and delivery experience.

Learn more about pregnancy and newborn care.

About The Author

Dr Sarah Chen Dr. Sarah Chen
Sarah Chen, MD, The Pregnant OB, works at our MultiCare Kent Clinic. She recently graduated from Loma Linda University and moved to the Pacific Northwest with husband Benjamin Chen, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital. The couple welcomed their first child into the world in July 2015.
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