When You Don’t Feel Pregnant:
Fetal Movement & Kicks During Pregnancy
Something told me that I was pregnant even before I came up with a positive pregnant test. There’s a feeling we get that just gives us an intuitive sense that life is growing inside of us. Sure, I had a lot of false feelings, but there is definitely a stronger feeling that comes over you when it is really happening.
The day that I found out that I was pregnant with Baby #2 was a rough one. I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes open at all; I was nauseas throughout the entire day and nothing would help (MAJOR clue!); I was experiencing breast tenderness. If these clues did not scream PREGNANT, I don’t know what else would! When I say I was tired, I mean that I literally could not sit down or else I would fall asleep. I felt a motherly intuition taking over my body and mind, which I would later find out was far from a mind trick.
The first 3-4 weeks were obvious that I was pregnant. My nausea continued nonstop without any breaks 24 hours a day. I also have high blood pressure, which is a new symptom since my 10th week of pregnancy. With high blood pressure comes migraines. With migraines comes dizziness. Needless to say, I was experiencing a first trimester from hell! All of the BEST first trimester symptoms were running rampant in our home; no one would ever have to second guess that I was a pregnant woman in this house!
Things changed over the past two weeks. Suddenly I felt like a normal woman leading a normal life. Even though the nausea and migraines continued, I sometimes found myself saying, "Oh, right! Your’re pregnant!" (Don’t worry! I didn’t chug a beer or smoke any cigarettes as a result of my memory loss!).
I am now just a few days shy of the 19-week mark, which means that I am feeling my baby moving around quite frequently. However, I am ALSO at the point where I WON’T feel my baby move for a few days. This is perfectly normal, but it is difficult for a pregnant woman to accept.
Why hasn’t my baby moved in 48-hours? Is everything okay? I have to constantly remind myself that everything is indeed normal and okay with my baby. Once I begin to panic myself, I will feel my little girl fluttering away to remind her mommy that all is fine – and she needs to CALM DOWN!
There are stages throughout each trimester where a woman stops feeling pregnant. While most symptoms continue to evidentially remain (Hooray!), we seem to forget or no longer FEEL pregnant. Is this normal? Absolutely! Does this make you a bad mom-to-be? Definitely NOT!
How do you not FEEL pregnant?
There are different ways this may appear to different women. After all, our bodies are different, we handle situations differently, and each pregnant is going to be unique. In my experience, I have felt "NOT pregnant" in two different ways:
 Memory Loss/Forgetfulness: It seems crazy, I know! However, I think that we subconsciously try to forget we are pregnant to help the time pass by much faster than it feels to be moving. Not having the morning sickness or sciatica to remind us that we are pregnant can cause forgetfulness, especially earlier on before our bellies POP!
This phase seems to be a common and natural occurrence during the first trimester of pregnancy. The idea of being pregnant is new and fresh in our lives, so while we are elated and quite excited to be carrying a new baby to love, it is perfectly normal to slip from time to time (so long as we don’t completely forget and wind up doing something we should not!).
 Lack of Fetal Movement/Symptoms: There comes a time when you just don’t FEEL physically pregnant, but want to feel something: movement, sickness, tiredness. It’s an odd feeling to want to feel these symptoms, but its a matter of mom feeling some sort of connection with her baby, whether it means nausea or a kick from the belly! This is especially common during the mid to late third trimester as the room for baby to move around lessens and lessens. However, I have sporadically experienced the concern and worry of not feeling pregnant throughout all trimesters.
Some days will bring lots of flipping and kicking, but the next day may be a quiet one. There’s normally no need to cause alarm, but we should always stay alert. If you have growing concerns, I would suggest keeping a journal to record fetal movements or your feelings/symptoms. Don’t forget - we do forget a lot while we’re pregnant!
The lack of feeling pregnant is quite common and a natural concern for moms-to-be. Most days result in a sick, tired, and hormonal mood. How do you wake up one day and out of the blue feel ‘okay’? No movement? No stretching of the belly?
By the time you are about 12 weeks pregnant, your baby is fully formed and most organs are working for themselves. All essential organs, such as his heart, liver and kidneys, are in place. The placenta, which has been growing and burrowing into the lining of your uterus, starts to provide your baby with oxygen and nutrients. Before this, the high levels of pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) in your body were providing everything that your baby needed.
Once you reach the end of your first trimester, everything begins to set into place. Many of the initial changes and body ‘overhaul’ will come to a slowdown and complete stop. The basic foundation has been laid, so the baby is set to go and the next step will be growing and growing until labor and delivery! Not feeling any [extreme] symptoms after your 12-week mark is normal.
Your baby will grow rapidly over the next few months. Your uterus is growing every day, but you may not notice on a daily basis. Don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning and find it is impossible to see your feet! After 13 weeks, some women, if they press their tummy gently, can feel the top of their uterus (fundus) just above the pubic bone. Most women can’t feel it, though, so don’t worry if you can’t.
Once you reach the 16-week mark, you may start to notice that your clothes are shrinking (or, you are growing?!). They will feel tighter and more uncomfortable around the waist area. There will suddenly appear to be a slight bulge below your belly button sooner than this as well!
It’s only natural to worry at your stage of pregnancy, after early sickness and before your bump really starts to show. Remember that the second trimester of pregnancy is a time of healthy, rapid growing for your baby. You can begin to relax and enjoy being pregnant, as you feel more like your usual self.
Should I be worried? Could this be a bad sign?
Every situation is different, and I am clearly not submitting any medical advice here on MamaNYC, nor do I have the educational background in medicine to say you should follow what I am saying! If you are concerned about your baby, I would advice speaking with your obstetrician immediately. This post is merely my opinion and experience, so I hope you’ll investigate your situation on an individual and personal level with a medical professional.
While I am not here to give advice, I hope my story can help someone feel a bit better about how they are feeling at this moment. We go through an intense hormonal imbalance filled with ups and downs for 9+ months, which is filled with a lot of doubt.
What Is My Baby Doing (or, NOT doing)?
Remember that your little one is stuffed tightly into your belly. Also remember that your baby is growing! Your newborn will not come out dancing and walking, so don’t expect a lot of fetal movement. Your baby will also be born into a schedule that includes MANY (many!) hours of sleep, so don’t concern yourself too much when your not feeling a lot of movements throughout the day.
If your baby is going to sleep 15+ hours after birth, I would find it to be perfectly normal if you only feel fetal movements for about 2-3 hours (scattered moments) throughout the day. This will be a LOT less, however, during the much earlier weeks of pregnancy.
7-8 Weeks: Your baby starts general fetal movements, such as bending sideways, and startling.
9 Weeks: Your baby hiccups, moves an arm or leg on its own, and sucks and swallows.
10 Weeks: She can flex and rotate her head, bring her hands up to touch her face, open her jaw and stretch.
11 Weeks: He can yawn!
14 Weeks: He can move his eyes.
After reading the list above, I think its fairly obvious as to why my little one isn’t doing the Macarena in my belly just yet! She is developing at a very rapid pace, but there is still a lot to be learned, developed, and growing is necessary before she really starts her tumbling exercises!
What Should I Be Feeling?
Since your baby is still very tiny and fetal movements can be very small or fast, you are surely going to miss out on a lot of them, especially during the earlier week. Some movements simply won’t last long enough for you to feel them. Others will be slight or not as strong as the bigger kicks or twirls. Most of these movements are very quick and sudden, but these will increase in strength and length over time.
Once you reach 18+ weeks in your pregnancy, fetal movements will become a daily activity for you and your baby to bond. There is nothing more thrilling than lying on your back and placing your hand on your belly to feel around for a kick! Whenever I am trying to find some movements in my belly, I lay flat (or, on my side – also works very well!) and feel around.
Place your hand lightly with not too much pressure and wait patiently for movement. You can also massage the abdominal area and sides to get baby moving around. Don’t apply too hard! A gentle rub around the belly will let the baby know you are waiting for her to flap those little legs!
Another important tip… Don’t get frustrated when your partner can’t feel what YOU are feeling! I spent countless hours holding my husbands hand to my belly during my first pregnancy. Although he felt our son kicking, I would say that he felt maybe 10% of ALL the attempts I made at making him "just wait… feel that? right there!".
You will feel movements that no one else can feel. The strength will also feel a lot bigger to you than others, which is normal! You are NOT going crazy! I’ve learned my lesson and know that he won’t be able to even feel the slightest kick, or see our daughters head moving around in my belly until we are well into my 3rd trimester.
I remember feeling my sons movements nonstop once I reached 7-8 months! He was dancing around nonstop inside of my belly, but earlier on they are few and far between. What should you be looking for? Here’s a guide to what you should expect to feel and when:
20 to 24 weeks:
Your baby’s activity will gradually increase and you will begin to feel movements at a semi-regular basis, which will gradually become much more apparent than the weeks prior. Your baby was likely moving around only during the night, but this period of your pregnancy will start to show much more activity during the day as your baby begins to strengthen his kicks and master the art of somersaults.
The sensational feeling will be a new one, but you will immediately realize what is going on. The feeling is hard to describe to someone that has not yet experienced pregnancy, but it is something in between butterflies and a hiccup in your belly! It is a very wild feeling, but something you will never ever forget for years to come.
24 to 28 weeks:
You will begin to recognize when your baby get the hiccups inside of your belly! This will feel like a jerking sensation with a similar feeling to the ‘butterflies’, but more of a lift UP and DOWN – just as YOU feel when you get the hiccups! The amniotic sac now contains up to 26 ounces of fluid, which provides your baby plenty of space to move around freely.
You will also begin to feel your baby jumping around at the sudden noises in your environment. Suddenly you press play on the television and someone left the volume BLASTING the night before, or the radio suddenly BLASTS out of nowhere. These sudden noises will cause the baby to do a little jump inside of your belly!
Things are starting to get a wee bit cramped inside of your growing belly. Even though your stomach has quadrupled in size, so has your baby! Your baby will begin to make much smaller, more definitive movements as things become cramped and tight inside of your uterus. Don’t worry, I am sure little junior is having plenty of fun discovering his hands, but he’s going to kick back and relax for the time being. There’s no room to dance anymore!
Someone is growing antsy! Your baby might begin to go a little bonkers inside of the womb; she ran out of space nearly 2-week ago and … perhaps boredom is setting in? Hey, I know I would be a little bored myself! There will be a slight peak in movements during this week, but don’t get too used to it as they will decrease dramatically after this week. This is quite normal, especially since your baby is doing much of her growing throughout the 3rd trimester. Every day inside your belly means less and less room to play (which is helping you serve that eviction notice in a few weeks!).
Ready for take off!! Your baby is settling into his final position for delivery, which will normally be head-down (Head-up will be known as ‘breach’, which should be discussed with your healthcare provider). The firm muscles of your uterus and tummy will keep him in place as your body begins to prepare for delivery*.
The primary movements that you will feel during this stage are going to be a bit painful. They will feel like jabbing and poking from is arms and legs. The most painful kicks will be to your ribs, which will actually feel like someone (from the outside!) literally kicking at your ribs. This will also affect your lungs/breathing since the baby has of course grown to compact them, but also karate chopping away at your entire ribcage. Oh, the joys of pregnancy!
*Your tummy muscles are likely to be weaker if this is not your first pregnancy. Your baby might keep changing his position right up to your due date. Your obstetrician will closely monitor your baby’s position, which is why you are making very frequent visits to your OB/GYN at this stage of your pregnancy!
36 to 40 weeks:
Your baby will be getting much larger and roll-over movements happen few and far between. Think of your baby as a peanut inside of a 5 gallon bag of water. While the peanut was able to freely swim around in the beginning, this has dramatically changed in 9-months. Your baby is now a watermelon with very little room to do anything inside of that bag of water. Slight movements can be made, but it will be very difficult for any somersaults to happen!
Your baby may have learned to suck his thumb as well! If his thumb pops out of his mouth, you may feel his head darting from side to side as he tries to find it again. Remember that his space is VERY limited in utero, so you may feel a great whipping feeling since he will likely want to find that thumb quickly!
Movements are likely to slow down and nearly come to a complete halt during the final weeks of your pregnancy. Movements will be VERY few and far between, but you will notice an increase in kicking underneath your ribs from one side of your body to the other. This is very normal, but you should of course consult with your doctor or midwife should you feel extreme anxiety over this stage of your pregnancy.
Your baby should be nestled in your pelvis at this point as he prepares to make his journey into the world. His head begins to feel like a giant watermelon pressing against your pelvic floor, which makes walking and standing almost unbearable. If your baby isn’t head-down, find out how to get him into the best position for birth by consulting with a medical professional.
Your baby is going to begin moving around a lot while you are trying to get some rest at night. You are going to notice a pattern of activity, or a routine in utero, which may be kept into the first few weeks of life until h learns day from night.
My son was VERY active at night during my final weeks of pregnancy, which made sense after he was born and ready to party after the sun went down! There is nothing you can do to start a routine at this point; you will develop a schedule quickly after birth to help your baby understand the difference between day and night; light and dark!
When Will I Feel Pregnant?
This will vary from woman to woman; pregnancy to pregnancy. I did a lot of reading that said I should feel kicks much earlier than I did during my first pregnancy. It is ‘normal’ for a woman to feel her baby moving around weeks 18-20 during the first pregnancy, but as early as 14-weeks for the next.
I also read some reported cases stating they felt kicking around 12-weeks! Also, I can tell you it will vary depending on your body frame size and weight. I was much thinner during my first pregnancy, which is probably why I had an earlier and easier chance of feeling movement.
How Can I Encourage Movement?
I normally find that movements come on when I am not expecting, or waiting to feel a kick. Try to keep yourself busy and think about something else if you become concerned over movements. You will feel your baby kick when you are standing in line at the grocery store, coloring with your other children, cleaning the bathroom, or paying the bills!
Here are some ways to encourage your baby to move in utero:
RELAX! Kickback, put your feet up, and relax your body. The constant movement tends to rock babies to sleep, but may wake up once you stop.
LIE DOWN Lay on your side and stay perfectly still. Take a few deep breaths and focus on your belly. This will help you pinpoint which movements are coming from your baby versus gas bubbles or other distractions in your environment.
DRINK Prepare an ice cold glass of water or juice. Your baby might feel the change in temperature and try to steer away from it.
MAKE NOISE! Try to make some noise by playing loud music or slamming a door to see if she responds. Your baby is well protected to the sensitivity of the outside world, so don’t worry about scaring the baby! This will simply get his attention.
How Can I Prevent The Worry & Anxiety?
There is an excellent way to at least calm your nerves in between doctor visits, but it will cost you. I recently purchased a fetal heart monitor, which comes with two sets of headphones and a monitor that you will place atop of the growing belly. Set the headphones on your ears and lay the monitor onto your lower abdomen. Listen for your growing baby’s heartbeat! You will be able to identify your slower heart rate to the much faster thump of your baby’s growing heart.
I remember spending endless hours lying in bed captivated by the sound of my son inside of my belly. The swishing sound of water and his heart rate were amazing to hear, so I am naturally going to repeat this ste during my second pregnancy!
Fetal heart monitors range in price from $20-50 for an average/decent monitor. Of course, I am sure you can spend much more, but I have great succes with our monitor that cost us only $45.00! This is not only a great bonding and memorable listening opportunity for mom and dad, I also use my monitor whenever I feel the anxiety coming on when my baby hasn’t moved in a few hours. SImply lay the monitor on your belly and rest your mind with confidence and ease – everything is okay!
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