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Quickening in Pregnancy: When Do You First Feel Movement?

If you’ve recently found out that you’re pregnant, you may be wondering when you should start to feel movement. Was that a kick you just felt, or was it indigestion? Sometimes it can be hard to tell.

Today, we’re exploring movement in pregnancy (also known as quickening):

  • When you first feel it

  • What it feels like

  • How often it should occur

Keep reading to learn more!

What is Quickening in Pregnancy?

Quickening is when a pregnant woman starts to feel the fetus move in the womb (uterus)[1]. The fetus actually starts moving around 12 weeks, but you won’t be able to feel it that early[1].

When Do You Start Feeling Movement in Pregnancy?

If this is your first pregnancy, you may not notice movement until about 20 weeks[1]. If you’ve been pregnant before, you may recognize movement earlier, usually around 16 weeks[1].

The location of your placenta may also affect when you feel movement. If your placenta is located between your belly and uterus (known as an anterior placenta), it may be harder to detect the first movements[1]. Additionally, the fetus may be very active or inactive, so you may or may not feel movement regardless.

If this is an unplanned pregnancy, any unfamiliar sensation can put you on high alert. If you’re already far along enough to feel movement, how does that affect your pregnancy options? We understand how scary that thought can be and we’re here to help. We offer free pregnancy services and a safe place to ask questions and process your emotions. Click the button below to get started!

What Does Quickening Feel Like?

Quickening can feel different for everyone. Some women describe the feeling as[1]:

  • Small muscle spasms

  • Pulsing or tapping

  • Bubbles popping

  • Fluttering or flickering

You may not realize what you’re feeling at first. The fetus is small and the movements aren’t very noticeable at first. As your pregnancy progresses, the movements will become stronger and you’ll become more aware of their patterns. It may also help to see the fetus’ movement on an ultrasound.

How Often Do You Feel Quickening?

It depends. Generally, women start to notice movement by 20 to 24 weeks. By 28 weeks, you may be able to feel at least 10 movements in two hours[1].

If you feel that the fetus is moving less or still haven’t felt strong kicks by that point, try to remain calm. It’s likely that the movements just aren’t that strong[1]. Reach out to your doctor with any concerns.

Can I Make the Fetus Move?

Because the fetus has a sleep-and-wake cycle, there will be times when they’re moving nonstop and other times when it feels like they aren’t moving at all. Fetuses are generally less active during the day because your movement may be soothing to them, causing them to fall asleep.

If you haven't noticed any movement, here are some things you can try[1]:

  • Talk to your belly or play loud music

  • Rub or tap on your belly

  • Go for a walk

  • Eat a meal or drink a sugary beverage

  • Find a quiet place, put your hands on your belly, and focus. You may just be too distracted to notice movement.

Does Quickening Hurt?

Quickening should not be painful[1]. If you’re feeling severe pain or cramping, contact your doctor. They may need to ensure you’re not experiencing a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or any other issues.

Free Pregnancy Services in Central GA

Pregnancy can be an overwhelming experience, but you don’t have to do it alone! CORE Healthcare for Women of Central Georgia provides free pregnancy services and support, so you can get the care you deserve all throughout your pregnancy!

Give us a call at (478) 216-5176 or schedule your appointment online today! All services are free and confidential.


  1. Quickening in Pregnancy: First Movements & What to Expect. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, April 22).


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