It’s impossible to know if you unborn baby is more active than your friend’s unborn baby, but if they seem to be active all the time, it can make you wonder if you’re in for a very busy child!

Take heart – an active baby in the womb does not mean an active newborn baby, according to science. But many mothers believe that foetal behaviour in the womb can be a good indicator of your baby’s personality. Gender doesn’t play a role in how active your baby is in the womb.

Why do some babies move a lot in the womb?

All babies move in the womb – in fact most baby’s sleep cycle is only about 30 minutes long. Yes, some are more active than others but there are a range of factors which mean you might feel your baby move more than another pregnant woman – and it isn’t because you have a hyperactive baby!

  1. Position of the placenta

Movements to the front of the abdomen are usually noticed more than movements towards the back of the tummy. If the placenta is positioned in the front of the uterus (known as an anterior placenta), it may act as a cushion so you don’t feel how active the baby is in the womb.

  1. How busy you are!

If you’re busy and moving around a lot during your pregnancy you may not feel as many movements as when you lie still. Mums often say their baby is more active at night but this can be because they are finally lying still and can feel the movements as they are concentrating on them.

Babies start to move from very early on in the womb but you won’t start to feel them until you are around 16–22 weeks pregnant. At first the activity will feel like ‘fluttering’, but as the baby grows you should feel very definite kicks or pushes in your tummy

  1. Your weight

Mums who have an anterior placenta (see above) and who are carrying a little more weight might not feel their baby move as much.

If a mum’s placenta is anterior (in the front), it can cushion Baby’s movements.

Is it a good sign if your baby moves a lot in the womb?

Believe it or not your baby is moving a lot from about seven weeks in the womb but you just can’t feel it yet. You should start to feel your baby’s first movements, called ‘quickening’, between weeks 16 and 25 of your pregnancy.

If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel your baby move until closer to 25 weeks. By the second pregnancy, some women start to feel movements as early as 13 weeks. You’re more likely to feel baby move when you’re in a quiet position, either sitting or lying down.

While it’s not necessary to write down your baby’s movements, it’s always a good idea if you note that your baby is moving every day. If you notice that the baby’s movements don’t stop, or alternatively if you can’t feel the baby move at all, talk to your GP or midwife as soon as you can.

Drastically increased foetal movement can indicate that the baby is in distress, and no foetal movement at all can be very serious. If you haven’t felt your baby moving normally, then drink some fruit juice and rest on your left side for an hour. If you do not feel movements or kicks over that hour, call your GP or midwife right away.

However, this is rare. Just like with every human being, there might be days when your baby moves a lot in the womb and there might be days when your baby doesn’t move a lot in the womb too. Towards the every end of the pregnancy, it’s not uncommon for the baby to rest for up to 45 minutes after an active period. Babies won’t move much at all while sleeping.

It’s not necessary to write down your baby’s movements, but it’s a good idea if you note that your baby is moving every day.

Is there anything to be worried about having an active baby?

It’s not uncommon for some mums to ask, ‘Is my baby moving too much in the womb?’ And the answer is usually, if he’s active in the womb, then you should probably take this as a sign that he’s doing well!

It may be uncomfortable for you, especially as the pregnancy progresses and you feel powerful kicks and punches. However it’s important to remember that every pregnancy is different. There’s no set number of movements or kicks that you should feel, so it’s tough to ever say your baby’s moving “too much”. Many women say, ‘Why does my baby kick constantly in my belly?’ and while it may feel like that, your baby does have inactive periods, you might not feel them.

You’ll soon be used to him stretching, kicking, wriggling and even hiccuping in utero as he develops.

Certain stimulants such as caffeine and sugar can make your baby more active. If you regularly drink tea or coffee, or if you consume a lot of sugary foods and drinks, try to cut back.

If you are still worried that your baby is moving too much in the womb, ask your GP for a scan. Or talk through when you feel the baby moving the most.

Although a very active baby is unlikely to be a concern, especially if you feel a drastic period of activity, followed by a period of inactivity, trust your instincts, and call your GP, midwife or obstetrician to voice your concerns.

What does it mean if my baby moves a lot in the womb?

It usually means your baby is developing in utero exactly as he should! And while doctors say that there is no correlation between how active your baby is in the womb and how active your baby will be after its born, many mothers believe that it’s a really good indicator. However, there isn’t scientific evidence to support this!

Can foetal movements predict gender?

There are all sorts of old wives’ tales about whether you can predict your baby’s gender. Some people believe that if your baby isn’t very active in the womb or uterus, then you’re likely to be having a girl.

Others say that there is a correlation between early foetal movements and having a boy.

However, there is no scientific evidence for this. If this is your second pregnancy, then your baby’s movements may feel quite different from your first. In fact you may notice flutterings earlier than you did in your first pregnancy. It’s tempting to think this means that your new baby must be the opposite sex to your firstborn, but it just means you are more in tune to a baby moving.

If you want to find out the sex of your baby, you may be able to do so during your 20-week scan – any other ways of predicting the sex of your baby don’t necessarily work.

A wriggly bub can make it tricky to see all the important bits and pieces!

Can foetal movements predict personality?

Dr Max J Laurore, from Geisinger Health System, a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Medical Association says that an active baby in the womb or an active baby at night doesn’t mean your baby will be a night owl who loves staying up! He notes that a perceived lack of activity isn’t necessarily a concern, either.

“A 32-week fetus sleeps 90% to 95% of the day, so if there is minimal activity, it’s traditionally not a cause for concern,” he explains.

This article first appeared on Practical Parenting and has been published here with permission.