There are ways for a pregnant woman to monitor the activity level of her unborn baby by becoming aware of their own bodily sensations. Fetal movements or quickening generally can be felt between 18-20 weeks for first-time mothers, and 16-18 weeks for those with previous pregnancies.
Periodic monitoring can help a mom become aware of her baby’s activity level and provide a baseline for measuring future activity. As you approach the end of pregnancy, it is important that you continue to feel active periods of fetal movement, especially if you have had a complication of pregnancy like hypertension or diabetes. Many clinicians have different formulas for what they consider a “normal” amount of movement.
Certainly every baby will be different in terms of the amount or quality of movements, but most healthy babies move frequently. The fetus has active periods and rest periods although most of the time the fetus is asleep. You may notice that your baby is more active after a meal or when you lie down. To do a fetal movement count, choose the baby's most active time of day, and repeat this procedure at the same time every day. Start the clock and see how long it takes you to record 10 movements – twists, pokes, kicks and turns.
If the fetal activity seems slower than usual, have something to eat or drink, walk around for 10 –15 minutes, then lay down on your left side and see if the movements have picked up. Your baby should move a minimum of 10 times in four hours – your clinician may have even stricter guidelines. If you have any concerns regarding a decrease in the quantity or quality of fetal movements, consult your physician or midwife without delay.