Getting to know your baby's movements

Your baby might be most active at night or during the day and there will be times when they sleep too. Every baby's different.

What’s most important is that you get to know what your baby's doing and when they’re usually active. If you know their usual pattern of movements, you’ll notice early on if they’re not moving as often or as much.

How often your baby should move

There's no set number of normal movements. Every baby's different.

Your baby will:

  • start moving from 16 to 24 weeks
  • move more and more up until 32 weeks
  • continue to move roughly the same until you go into labour and whilst you're in labour too

Your baby won't move less towards the end of your pregnancy.

Phone your midwife or maternity unit immediately if you notice your baby hasn’t moved as much as usual or their pattern of movement has changed.

What movement's normal?

It's not true that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy. You should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour and while you're in labour too.

Get to know your baby’s normal pattern of movements.

Why your baby's movements are important

A reduction in your baby's movements can be a warning sign your baby's unwell.

Around half of women who had a stillbirth noticed their baby’s movements had slowed down or stopped.

If you notice your baby hasn’t moved as much as usual or their pattern of movement has changed, tell your midwife or maternity unit immediately.

Maternity units are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don't be put off or worry about calling.

Checking your baby's heartbeat

Don't check your baby's heartbeat using:

  • hand-held monitors
  • dopplers
  • phone apps

Even if you detect a heartbeat, this doesn't mean your baby's well.

If baby's movements reduce again

If you have a check-up and you're still unhappy with your baby’s movement, you must contact your midwife or maternity unit straight away. Even if everything was normal last time.

Never hesitate to contact your midwife or the maternity unit for advice, no matter how many times this happens.

Adapted from baby's movements in pregnancy with permission from Tommy's.

Further information, other languages and alternative formats

Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin)

Last updated:
25 January 2023