I woke up early this morning (as my body seems to do routinely as of late) and lay in bed trying to get back to sleep. I was on my back with a full bladder (ouch) and I felt my baby move for the first time this pregnancy! Since this is my fifth pregnancy, I knew immediately what I had felt, but I still waited a few minutes to see if it was just gas (or air bubbles). When no other signs of indigestion followed, I realized it had been a true fetal movement. How exciting is that??? Just last week I was able to hear the strong heartbeat of my baby for the first time, and now I'm starting to feel it move. It actually felt like the baby may have flipped over inside me, but there's no way to know for sure.
I am barely 15 weeks gestation, the beginning of the second trimester. I've read that women generally feel the first movement between 16 and 22 weeks, even though the baby moves a lot and starts moving at around 6 or 7 weeks. Usually the baby is so small at that point that no movement is felt until later. I feel fortunate to have felt movement so early, but I have heard that women who have been pregnant before can feel it earlier than first-time moms because they know what they are feeling.
Fetal movement has been described by women as feeling like gas bubbles, popcorn popping, a goldfish swimming around, or butterflies fluttering. At first it can be easy to dismiss the feeling because it's hard to distinguish, but as you feel it more you will become better at recognizing what it is. For me, in the early stages, it feels like gas bubbles.
It's easier to feel movement when the mother is still, either sitting or lying down. I've noticed that I feel more baby movement when I'm lying in bed, usually at night when I'm trying to fall asleep. This because when the mother is up and about she is moving her own body and less likely to notice movement within her, and also because when she is up and about her muscles are helping to hold her abdomen a bit tighter than when she is lying down or resting, and there is more room for the baby to stretch out and move when mommy is still.
Some women wonder if they should keep track of how much they feel their baby move. This is not vital in the second trimester, and I usually don't worry about it at all unless there is a concern that comes up in my prenatal visit. I have never had a concern that warranted tracking fetal movement, but there are times when your doctor or midwife might ask you to count the baby's movements in an hour. This is usually later in pregnancy (third trimester), and your health care provider will instruct you how to do this. Over time, I usually get a feel for the frequency of my baby's movements and when he or she is most active and least active, but I don't actually count the number of movements. If you notice a decrease in fetal movement, tell your doctor or midwife, and he or she can help you determine if there is a problem.
It's exciting to feel those early flutters of movement, and know that the baby is active and doing well. As pregnancy progresses and the baby grows, the kicks, punches and flip-flopping will become stronger and easier to detect, and seem to come more frequently.