Does Baby Stop Moving Before Labor?

The first time a mother feels the sensation of her baby kicking or moving inside the womb, it is always an exciting moment.  Studies have shown that movements can initially be felt between the 17th week of pregnancy and the 28th week. However, if your baby’s changes do not align with this timeline, there is no cause for panic as far as your doctor or midwife is regularly monitoring your condition. It is possible for pregnancies to be healthy and still have baby movements before or after this average term.

Initially, you may not be able to recognize the feeling of the baby moving, especially if it is your first pregnancy. After a while though, if you are an expecting mother, you will find yourself looking forward to these signs that show that your baby is growing more and more each week. Gradually, every movement you feel will be met with excitement as well as anxiety over the baby’s health. As your pregnancy progresses, mothers may even become dependent on these reminders that the baby in the womb is alive and well. Therefore, it comes as no surprise when pregnant mothers grow concerned and worried when these regular sensations start slowing down in the later stages of pregnancy. But as long as there are regular medical inspections, and unless your doctor says otherwise, there is no cause for worry. Yes! Babies usually tend to show less movement as the gestation reaches its last few weeks inside the womb.

Why do babies tend to move less as labor-day approaches?

The reason is simple. Over the course of the first two trimesters, the baby will continue to ingest the nutrients that the mother is providing. Naturally, as the baby absorbs these nutrients, it will result in a healthy body that will develop in size too. As the baby grows bigger inside the womb, the space to move and navigate becomes less because the growing size of the baby will occupy more space in the uterus.  As the period of pregnancy progresses beyond the 30th week, almost all of the physical developments will have taken place, and the baby grows to a considerable size that is much bigger than the little fetus that occupied the same womb a few months back.  The baby will now spend the majority of its time putting on weight and getting ready for the world, instead of engaging in acrobatic maneuvers. The movements can, therefore, reduce to slight tickles or nudges as opposed to robust actions and swinging limbs.

In addition to this, the baby will start to move itself so that it is facing the right direction for delivery. This means it will be in a position where the head is facing down, getting ready for labor. In this cramped space that the baby finds itself in, he/she may resign more towards sensory perceptions (such as noise, lights and usually sucking of the thumb) rather than try to perform significant movements in what will be a confined space by then.

Observing a more prolonged duration between movements may also mean that just like us, the baby is also tired and is merely getting some much-needed rest. Therefore, as long as you get the assurance from the doctor or obstetrician that the medical vitals of both the mother and baby are fine, a decrease in the movement of the baby during the later stages of pregnancy only means that the baby is developing, as expected, in a healthy manner.

How do I make baby move?

If you have observed that the baby has not made movements for an extended period, or the interval between movements have become irregular (assuming the doctor has approved that all is well), you can take a few measures yourself to encourage the baby to move inside the womb. Listed below are some of those commonly practiced tricks that can get the baby alive and kicking (literally in this case) again –

  1. Go for a snack.

If you are trying to get the baby to kick or feel some movement, help yourself to a healthy snack. It can be toasts, fruits, nuts or even candy. The baby usually responds to the mother’s eating pattern, and an increase in the mom’s blood sugar can also jolt the baby into moving or kicking too. Some mothers, therefore, agree that washing down the snack with a glass of natural juice helps the process even more (remember to do it in moderation).

  1. Do a few jumping jacks

As ridiculous as this may seem (considering that we expect a pregnant woman to jump and stretch her limbs), it is a proven tactic in getting the baby to move. Obstetricians may even request mothers to do a few jumping jacks (not too vigorously of course) before an ultrasound to get the baby to move into a more visible position. The way it works is that the mother’s movement will transfer to the baby in the womb too and it may prompt the baby to move so that it can find a more comfortable position.

  1. Softly poke or jiggle your belly

This action works in a way similar to the previous exercise. It gets the baby to reciprocate the movement simply by responding or may move the baby into a new position since the uterus is filled with a fluid. Remember not to exert so much force that it causes discomfort to the mother because this too will transfer to the baby.

  1. Shine a flashlight on your belly

The baby’s eyes will be developed enough to perceive light and dark by the 2nd trimester. Shining a light on the stomach will prompt the baby to look away or try to obstruct the light which will result in movement.

  1. Lie down or stay still

A mother’s actions can provide a rocking or swaying movement that can put the baby to sleep and remain motionless. Sometimes, when the mother lies still, the ceasing of the swaying motion will wake the baby up, and it will proceed to move or kick. Experts recommend rolling over to one side if the initial position does not create a response from the baby.

  1. Talk or sing to the baby

Babies have hearing that is developed enough to distinguish noises by the 22nd week of gestation. Simply talking to your baby or singing a song can evoke a response from the baby.

A similar exercise that is commonly practiced is when you play music near the baby bump (some even believe that Mozart makes your baby more intelligent).

  1. Cool the belly.

This can mean drinking a cold glass of water, or some people opt for placing an ice pack on the mother’s belly. Either way, babies can react to the cold sensation because they are confined in the warm snugly uterus. The reaction may be in the form of kicking or simple movements that are visible from outside the belly.


When the baby stops moving before labor, it can result in something as mundane as a delayed ultrasound session or something more worrisome such as unnecessary panic for a mother. So the next time you stop feeling movement in your belly, consult a doctor at the earliest. Upon getting the reassurance that everything else is well and healthy, you can try one of these homemade tricks to get your baby up and kicking again.


Mother of two young boys (5 and 3!) and an avid "Googler", Carly is the kind to research something to the nth degree. Be it about products, hacks, or techniques, she shares what she finds out at her website - Fairy Good Mommy.

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