Father feeling the baby kicks in pregnant mother.

When you’re pregnant, nothing is quite as reassuring as feeling your baby move. Kicks, or fetal movement, are one indicator of how well your baby is doing. But when should you feel movement and what does it all mean?

A kick count, or fetal movement count, can be a helpful guide. And best of all, this do-it-yourself test requires no special equipment and is something you can do as it fits your schedule. Just choose one hour during the day when your baby tends to be active and you are able to concentrate. Count how many movements, kicks or rolls you feel during that one-hour period.

Fetal Kick Test: What is Normal?

At 16-20 weeks, you may first begin to feel your baby. Women often describe these first movements as more like “flutters.”

Around 28 weeks gestation, if your pregnancy is considered high risk, your obstetrician may ask you to actually keep track of your baby’s movements.

A healthy baby usually kicks at least 10 times per hour. If you don’t feel at least five kicks within the first hour, try drinking something cold and eat a snack. Then lie down on your side. It may be helpful to place your hands on your abdomen to help you feel your baby moving.

If you after the second hour you are not feeling six to 10 movements, your provider may ask you to check in with their office. While it is normal for babies to have periods of inactivity (they need to rest and grow), evaluation ensures your baby and placenta are still thriving and working appropriately. Your OB can do additional monitoring by simply listening to your baby’s heart rate for 20 minutes.

Kick Count and Your Due Date

Within about a month of your baby’s arrival, it is normal for your baby’s movements to become less dramatic. However, you should still be able to feel six or more kicks within an hour. If you don’t, talk to your provider.

There’s an App for That

There are also apps you can download to track your baby’s kick count from the palm of your hand or from your tablet. Reputable apps include Baby Kicks Monitor (Maxwell software) and BabyKicks (Smiley Apps).

These apps make kick counting very convenient. The session will automatically stop at two hours or when your baby kicks 10 times. As with the counting method outlined above, if you don’t feel 10 kicks within two hours, talk with your obstetrician.

Whatever method you choose, enjoy the hour you set aside to bond with your growing baby.