If you are a first time mom-to-be, you might not even notice the first few movements that your baby makes. They will be subtle, and it might be hard to distinguish them from other common feelings in your belly. However, as time goes on and your baby grows larger and stronger, you might begin to notice some movement. Usually, expectant mothers don’t notice movement and kicking until sometime in the second trimester. If your baby is slow to start kicking, don’t worry. There are many factors that could delay his movement. In fact, his movement might not even be delayed at all. Some women have a harder time feeling kicks than others. Women who are overweight and women who smoke notice these feelings less. Unless your doctor has indicated otherwise, there is no need to be concerned if your baby doesn’t start kicking by the middle of the second trimester.

Once your baby does start kicking, you should try keeping track of his movements. If you know your baby’s movements and schedule well, you’ll also notice if there is a change in his or her activity level. If your baby starts moving less than usual, you should speak with your health care provider. A decrease in movement could be a sign of a problem, and your doctor might want to test you for any abnormalities.

It is especially important that you pay careful attention to your baby’s kicks in the last trimester, specifically right before or after your due date. This is a crucial time for your baby’s health, and any reduction in the baby’s level of activity could indicate a serious problem. Induced labor might be necessary if your health care provider feels that there are any issues.

When it comes to counting your baby’s kicks, there is no reason to do so before the third trimester. Every baby is different and his or her level of activity is not directly associated with its level of health. However, once you know your baby’s routine in the third trimester, you should keep track. Even if your baby only kicks ten times per day, take note and contact your health care provider if there is a day with only five or six kicks. Counting your baby’s kicks in the third trimester is an excellent way to keep track of your baby’s health at home and alert your doctor of a problem immediately.

Source: Novikova Hofmeyr: Management Of Reported Decreased Fetal Movements During Pregnancy. Cochrane Summaries April 2012