Your joys have no boundaries when you experience your baby kicking inside the womb for the first time between the 16th and 25th week of pregnancy. If its your first pregnancy you are sure to ask your hubby to experience the movement too by placing his hand over your tummy. It’s a feeling of excitement, elation and happiness. While the movement of the fetus assures the pregnant woman that the infant is growing normally why do these little ones kick us in the first place?
A Quick Kick
Known as ‘quickening’ most pregnant women express the kick as a butterfly feeling, nervous twitching or a tumbling motion. While a first-time mom finds it difficult to find it until the 22nd week of pregnancy maybe and fail to differentiate it from hunger pangs or other movements, a second- or third-time mom can feel one instantly and differentiate it from other feelings too.
The kick starts off slowly but during the second and third trimester the kicks grow stronger and become more frequent. There are studies showing that the baby moves between 25 and 30 times an hour during the third trimester. These little ones are up to their own naughty little stuff inside the womb. They become most active when you try to sleep at night and might even try to kick anyone who tries to cuddle you while sleeping-its not restricted to your spouse but it could even be your elder son/daughter. Hmmm, the fetus claims full ownership of the mommy even before he/she sees the light of the world. This is pretty tough to deal with I say!
Doctors request the pregnant lady to keep a count of the number of kicks that you experience to assure yourself that the baby is growing normally. You should be able to experience at least 10 good movements through the day. But the number of movements varies baby to baby. Some are very active and keep moving around while other babies don’t. But absence of movement might also mean that your baby is sleeping. If it is beyond the 32nd week, it might mean that the baby has become big and there is not much space for the movement.
While what I’ve listed above is well-known by all, a new study gives us another perspective about why a fetus kicks and how it helps them grow. The study researched on the sleep patterns of 19 newborns between 31 and 42 weeks of which some of them were premature babies. The researcher noted the infants corrected gestation age which helps denote the exact age of the baby from conception regardless of when the baby was born. Only when an infant is born between 37-42 weeks of pregnancy, he/she is labeled as a full-term baby. So, while it might be a week after birth, the preterm baby would be considered as 35 weeks old if he/she was born at the 34th week of pregnancy. Read more about preterm babies and their ways into the world by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Researchers looked at the brainwaves that fetuses produce when they kick during their rapid eye movement sleep (REM). Premature babies generally have a faster brainwave but the fast waves disappear as the babies grow past a few weeks. Researchers say that kicks during the third trimester help the infant in developing brain ideas that are linked to sensory input and also helps the little one realize about his/her own body. In animals such as rats, reflex movements and constant environmental feedbacks are necessary for clear brain mapping and researchers feel that this might be true in the case of humans too.
As brain development takes place the fetus kicks and responds to his/her own brain activity and also other things such as maternal movement, light, sound and other such stimuli. During the last trimester, it is more of a rolling than kicking but any movement is appreciated. It gives scope for a little exercise to the muscles and limbs, response to stimuli and also helps the brain make connections to the spatial sense.
But one question that still keeps haunting physicians includes what changes in frequency of movements mean. There’s no evidence that kick counts are a sure-shot way to prevent stillbirths. Every mother should realize what’s normal for herself and the baby, the number of kicks and the time of the kick. Some women might not feel a kick when they are busy with some chore. Hence, it is best to notice movements when they sit down peacefully feeling relaxed.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.