Having an active baby is a good sign that your baby is healthy. Every baby is different and their patterns all vary, so get to know your baby and what is normal. It’s important to recognise if your baby becomes less active or stops moving. However, it is sometimes difficult to be aware of movements when you are busy, active and on your feet for a lot of the day so allow yourself time to sit down and become aware throughout the day. 

For more information on local services please click here.

Your baby's movements

When you'll feel your baby move

You should start to feel your baby move between around 16 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. If this is your first baby, you might not feel movements until after 20 weeks.

If you have not felt your baby move by 24 weeks, tell your midwife. They'll check your baby's heartbeat and movements.

You should feel your baby move right up to and during labour.

Other people cannot feel your baby move as early as you can. When they can feel the movements, by putting a hand on your bump, is different for everyone.

What your baby's movements feel like

The movements can feel like a gentle swirling or fluttering. As your pregnancy progresses, you may feel kicks and jerky movements.

How often should your baby move?

There's no set number of movements you should feel each day – every baby is different.

You do not need to count the number of kicks or movements you feel each day.

The important thing is to get to know your baby's usual movements from day to day.


Do not use a home doppler (heartbeat listening kit) to try to check the baby's heartbeat yourself. This is not a reliable way to check your baby's health. Even if you hear a heartbeat, this does not mean your baby is well.

Why your baby's movements are important

If your baby is not well, they will not be as active as usual. This means less movement can be a sign of infection or another problem.

The sooner this is found out the better, so you and your baby can be given the right treatment and care.

This could save your baby's life.

Can your baby move too much

It's not likely your baby can move too much. The important thing is to be aware of your baby's usual pattern of movements.

Any changes to this pattern of movements should be checked by a midwife or doctor.

Find out more


What should I do if I feel my baby’s movements are reduced or changed?

Always seek professional help immediately. Do not rely on any home kits you may have for listening to your baby’s heartbeat. Never go to sleep ignoring a reduction or change in your baby’s movements. 

You need to contact your maternity unit


Do not wait until the next day – call immediately, even if it's the middle of the night

  • If you are concerned your baby is moving less than normal. The assessment of baby movements is very individual to each pregnancy. There is not a specific number of movements you need to feel and only you know what is normal for your baby.

self care at home if you have no red or amber signs

  • If your recent antenatal assessment was normal and if you are unsure whether your baby’s movement are reduced or not, monitor carefully for 2 hours. This may be easier if you lay on your left side. If after this time you feel that your baby’s movements are reduced, contact your maternity unit. If normal movements have been felt continue with routine antenatal care.

Self care

Contact your maternity unit if you are still concerned

Your local maternity unit is staffed 24 hours a day with obstetrician s and midwives to help care for you, your baby and your pregnancy related health concerns. For some AMBER concerns it may be possible to be seen in a midwifery led unit if it is more convenient for you. For health concerns that are not related to your pregnancy you are advised to see your GP, call NHS 111 out of hours, or attend A&E if it is an emergency.

To find the contact numbers for your local maternity unit, please click here.

  • Labour line (maternity advice line) - Many maternity units provide women with a central advice line often called “labour line”. You are advised to call this number if you think you might be in labour. The phone is answered by a midwife 24hours a day. They will ask you questions, assess you and give advice. When the time is right they will arrange for you to attend your preferred place of birth, or arrange a midwife to come to you if you are planning a homebirth.
  • Community Midwife- Your community midwife provides you with all routine maternity care from your first “booking in“ appointment in early pregnancy to discharging you to the care of the health visitors when your baby is 2 weeks old. She will give you information on keeping you and your baby healthy during pregnancy and refer you to specialists if required.

Whilst you may have individual contact details for your community midwife, if you are concerned about your pregnancy we advise you call the maternity unit on the numbers provided because staff are available 24 hours a day. Please do not leave urgent voicemails or text on a community midwife’s phone.

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and can arrange referral to a hospital specialist should you need it. Whilst pregnant, you will have regular appointments with a midwife but it is still important to continue with any ongoing care from your GP.

NHS 111 can ask you questions to assess your symptoms, give you advice or can put you in touch with a GP out of usual working hours.

A&E departments provide vital care for life threatening emergencies, such as suspected heart attack or breathing difficulties. If you are not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Improving the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of expectant mothers, infants, children and young people throughout Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Area.

(N.B: The Family and Therapies team at ABUHB is NOT responsible for the content on the webpage links that we refer to in our resource sections and linked information to external sites. All information was accurate and appropriate at the time the webpage was created.)

Accessibility tools