Did you know that the ~legit~ name for “baby kicks” is called quickening? Yup, it’s called quickening when an expectant mother can start to feel movement from their baby inside them. According to the Mayo Clinic, quickening tends to happen around 20 weeks of pregnancy (or 18 weeks after conception), during your second trimester.
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Your baby kicking inside you can also be confused for gas (sorry to ruin the moment), among many other sensations you’ll read about below: everything from butterflies in your gut when you see someone you love, to tickles, to twitches.
No matter what the name, it can be one of the most exciting times in your pregnancy when you first feel your baby kick. Whether you’re an expectant mother who can’t wait to feel their baby kick, a mother reliving the feeling of quickening, or just someone curious as to what it feels like, here’s how 15 mothers describe the feeling of their baby first kicking.
1. “It felt like being tickled from the inside. I was eating cake when I first felt my first baby kick, and it felt like every few bites of cake I ate, I felt more and more tickles.”—Gina, 38
2. “I would describe the feeling of my baby kicking for the first time as a soft flutter or ripple against my belly. I was sitting alone in a conference room after wrapping up an early meeting when I felt the unmistakable flutter in my stomach. It felt like tiny gas bubbles, but without pain. “—Allie, 30
3. “The first time feeling our son kick felt like butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I think of it like the feeling you get when you look at your partner and get that shy feeling inside. It was weird because it was so unexpected, and up until that time, it didn’t really hit me that I was pregnant. As a masculine identifying lesbian, I never thought I’d be pregnant. After feeling him kick, my first thought was holy s$*@, this is really happening.”—Corritta, 28
4.“Honestly, the first time I felt my baby kick, it was a very strange and uncomfortable feeling. I remember I was scared because she was very calm and suddenly she moved fast and hard. It was very painful and I noticed her little knee sticking out of my belly. I was at work, and I screamed hard, and then I got very emotional.”—Nedime, 29
5. “At first it felt like bubbles or popcorn popping. Now that he’s bigger it’s harder to describe. Like it definitely feels like he’s kicking or punching but it doesn’t hurt. Sometimes when he stretches or rolls around it feels kind of like a wave.”—Daylee, 24
6. “Both my husband and I were lucky to be able to feel our baby kick early at 16 weeks! I was thankful to be so in tuned with my body because I can definitely understand how many women confuse the movements with gas bubbles. They are the most lovely, welcomed gas bubbles ever!” —Katy, 31
7. “It’s the most spectacular feeling I’ve ever experienced. The best way to describe the sensation is like having a private party with just you and your child and no one else is invited. You will sometimes see me stop and smile out of nowhere, or rub my belly with a comical grin on my face as if to say ‘alright buddy, I know you’re in there.'”— Demia, 31
8. “It would mostly happen at night when I was trying to relax. It feels incredible, like fluttering, and as the months progressed it would get more aggressive. Sometimes I’d let out a yelp because [the baby would] jab my bladder or ribs. From the outside my husband said it looked like an alien was inside my belly.”—Rana, 34
9. “The first time I felt my baby, it felt like flutters, so faint it might have been indigestion and I just remember thinking ‘Was that [the baby]? Am I imagining things?’ As the weeks passed, I could feel her sort of bumbling around, sort of pushing on the walls of her little cocoon, then, one day, a kick! We would play this game where she would kick and I would push back a bit. Closer to the end, I could see her kicking, which is the weirdest thing ever. It is both comforting and terrifying to carry a tiny human inside of you — you are never alone, but it also feels like a little parasite and you are so terrified about eating the wrong thing or falling or the million other things that can go wrong.”—Hilary, 32
10. “With my first child I felt the first kick at 17 weeks. I was lying in bed on my back and I felt a little flutter within me. It wasn’t a rumble from hunger or gas, it was fleeting and gentle. I had seen the sonogram and obviously knew a baby was inside me, but feeling that movement for the first time made it more real. I marveled at the life inside of me, immediately touched my stomach, and felt more protective of the little baby I was in charge of growing. The kicks become addictive — you are always waiting for another one.“—Kelly, 32
11. “I recall the first time feeling my baby kick as a fluttering sensation. In the beginning, it is so light that you will wonder if it is actually happening. To me, it felt like a twitch in my stomach, as though my muscles were contracting slightly. Feeling your baby kick for the first time (and each subsequent time) is a truly incredible feeling. It is reaffirming that there is a little being growing and being nurtured inside of you. Even after all of my pregnancies, I still feel the little twitch from time to time and it brings me right back to those memories. There really is nothing else like it.”—Jamie, 32
12. “I’ve described it like you’ve eaten a meatball sandwich that gave you gas and now it’s kicking you! It might start out as butterfly kicks, tiny and rapid, but as the baby gets bigger (around month six of pregnancy), you will get these feelings of long stretches, like arms or legs, where baby is feeling its way around your womb. And often times you can actually see baby moving in your belly at this stage.”—Kenna, 30
13. “When I felt my baby kick for the first time, it felt like there were butterflies flying around inside my stomach. At first, I thought it was just my stomach growling or nervous twitches, but a few times later, I knew it was him kicking. The feeling is unlike anything else and I feel that after you feel them kick, the connection between you and the baby is so much stronger. That’s when pregnancy really starts to feel real.”—Cassidy, 23
14. “The first time my son kicked me while I was pregnant, I wasn’t even sure if that’s what it was. I remember so clearly, my husband and I were looking at apartments and we stopped at a gas station to fill up and (who are we kidding) get me some snacks. Everyone always told me that feeling that first kick feels like popcorn popping in your stomach — which is completely true, but it’s a a sensation you’ll never understand until you go through it. The best way I could describe it would be it almost felt like a very, teeny, tiny grumbling in my stomach.”—Jacqueline, 31
15. “The first time I felt my son kick it was one of those weird ‘is it or isn’t it’ experiences. Since it’s a totally new sensation, you’re not really sure if it’s just your stomach or the baby. It was one of the most ‘we’re really doing this’ moments of the pregnancy, though because it made it feel real and very tangible — not the abstract idea of ‘your baby is the size of a grape’ or whatever tiny fruit of the week it equates to in size. The only downside is that, at that early point, it’s not really a shared experience yet, so I could explain it to my husband, but he couldn’t feel anything himself.”—Danielle, 33
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