For many women, one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy is being able to feel the baby kick and move. That intimate connection between mother and baby can seem magical. Many women delight in feeling their baby's squirms, rolls, kicks, punches and hiccups. However, some movements may cause women to worry if they appear in places that seem unusual, such as right under the breasts, or if they seem odd, such as the rhythmic pattern of a hiccup. In many cases, these are all perfectly normal and healthy.
Where Movement Occurs
Feeling the baby move right under the breasts is not unusual. As baby grows, his arms and legs can push into the ribs, creating discomfort for mom. This is most likely to occur during the latter stages of the pregnancy. Women who have shorter torsos may feel movement under their breasts or high in their ribs earlier in the pregnancy. In the early part of the second trimester, women are likely to feel their babies lower in their abdomen. Early movement may feel like a fluttering similar to gas.
When to Expect Movement
Most women won't start to feel movement from their baby until near the end of the fourth month of pregnancy. Before then, the baby will be so small that he could be doing acrobatics in the womb and mom won't feel it. Women who are more attuned to their bodies may notice the movement earlier than the fourth month. Women who have had a baby before and know what the movements feel like may also notice the movements earlier. Most babies are typically more active after mom has had a snack or a meal, since they get a boost of energy.
Once babies start moving regularly, their mothers can start "kick counts." Typically, babies should move about 10 times per hour. The movements can be of any kind, and they don't have to be dramatic, such as a hard kick. Movements can be a simple turning or wiggle. It's best for pregnant women to count these movements when they can lie still so that they don't miss any kicks, turns or wiggles. Nap and bed times are both good opportunities to count kicks.
When to Call a Doctor
Feeling the baby high in the ribs isn't a cause for concern. Not feeling the baby move in a while is cause for worry. The American Pregnancy Association says that women should call their healthcare provider when they notice a significant change in activity, such as fewer movements or a change in pattern. For example, if a woman feels her baby move every day after dinner but hasn't felt that movement or any other movement in an hour, it may be cause for concern. The association notes that babies naturally start to move less toward the end of the pregnancy, because they have less space in which to move.