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What the location of your baby’s kick means and how it changes with each trimester

We have answers to your baby's kicking location to put your mind at ease

There’s something special about feeling your baby move. It reminds you that you have a human growing and thriving inside you. Sometimes, a baby kicks so hard you can see a pregnant belly move. But for some women — particularly first-time moms — pregnancy is full of questions and worries, and it’s easy to read into every little fetal movement, particularly as the due date draws near.

My baby is kicking low. Does that mean the baby has dropped? Is labor coming?” This is a popular question in mom Facebook groups and forums. Other moms may worry something is wrong.

There’s good news: The location of your baby’s kick isn’t generally a sign of concern. So, no, you shouldn’t worry if your baby is kicking low or if baby is kicking your bladder. To help you decipher fetal movement and put your mind at ease, we spoke with Dr. Tamika Cross, a Texas-based OBGYN.

A pregnant woman lying on the couch holding her stomach

Common locations to feel a baby kick

It’s normal to feel your baby kick throughout your abdomen, especially early during the second trimester.

“It depends on the way the baby is laying,” said Cross.

They do somersaults in your belly, particularly earlier in the pregnancy, when they have more room to move. As special as feeling your pregnant belly move is, there are a couple of places many moms wish their little ones would avoid.

“One of the most uncomfortable places is higher up in the ribs area or when the baby is very low kicking down toward where the maternal bladder is, sometimes forcing out a little urine,” said Cross.

But there’s nothing to worry about if they’re sitting pretty in these spots.

Pregnant woman on a bed

If I’m feeling my baby low, am I breech? Is the baby coming?

The answer to both of these questions is no.

“The baby is moving a million times in there,” Cook said. “You may feel a kick in one area and think it’s a kick, but it’s an elbow. You think it’s a kick, and it’s really the knee twisting.”

Cook says if you’re concerned, you should call your doctor. They can look into your concerns and put your mind at ease.

Pregnant married woman standing in a floral gown

How the placenta affects fetal movement and what you’re feeling

Moms often feel their baby between 16 and 25 weeks of pregnancy. First-time moms may feel baby later because it’s hard to decipher those first flutters from gas in the early weeks. But there’s another thing that may affect when someone feels fetal movement, regardless of what number pregnancy this is: Placenta placement.

“If the placenta is anterior, it’s on the abdominal wall, the part of the abdomen you can touch and feel. So there’s an additional layer so it can be hard to feel the baby move,” Cook said.

You can ask your sono tech about your placenta’s placement during an ultrasound. It may help calm your nerves.

Pregnant woman sleeping on a bed

When to be concerned and contact your doctor

The location of baby’s kicks isn’t typically an issue, but the amount of movement could be a sign something is off.

Kick counts, which involve having a pregnant woman lying down and counting the number of kicks, are controversial. But some OBGYNs still prescribe them in the third trimester. Others suggest them if a woman is concerned that she’s feeling baby less.

“Some studies show it has no correlation with fetal well-being, but it’s really the only thing we have to go by because we can’t monitor a woman in the hospital for nine months,” Cook said.

Cook suggests doing them during the time you normally feel baby move the most (usually at night, when you’re not moving around as much and can focus on the movement). She typically wants her patients to feel 10 separate kicks in two hours, but cautions them not to stick to an exact number. Drinking a sugary drink like orange juice can get baby to wake up and move. If you’re concerned, call your doctor.

“It’s better to be proactive than to sit on it,” Cross said.

Pregnant woman on a beach

Takeaways

Despite what you may read on the internet, the location of baby’s kicks is usually not a sign of concern or that labor is near. Baby kicks low and high because they’re flexible and moving constantly. Placenta placement can affect when you feel baby move, and a lack of fetal movement is more concerning than location. If you’re worried, call the doctor.

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