Quickening

■ 2nd trimester

Quickening is the term for the first movements or kicks you feel from the fetus. In first pregnancies, this exciting development typically occurs by about 20 weeks' gestation, although you might feel the first movements a few weeks earlier or later. The movements might feel like a light tapping or the fluttering of a butterfly. At first you might attribute the sensation to gas or hunger pangs.

It's normal during the second trimester for fetal movements to be somewhat erratic — few and far between at first, or several movements one day and none the next. Later, the kicks and movements usually become stronger and more regular, and you'll be able to feel them by placing a hand on your lower abdomen. Feeling your baby move is a pleasant way to feel connected to your pregnancy. When you and your partner feel movements through your belly, you'll both begin to become more emotionally involved with your baby.

As your pregnancy progresses, you'll probably become aware of your baby's typical movement patterns. Each fetus has its own pattern of activity and development. The most active time is between 27 and 32 weeks. Activity tends to slow down in the last weeks of pregnancy. (See also Baby movement, decreased.) If you notice any major changes in your fetus's activity level after 22 weeks — such as an absence or slowdown of movement for more than 24 hours — contact your health care provider.

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