Birth Definitions

Quickening Definition

The term “quickening” is used in the pregnancy and birthing industry to refer to the moment when a pregnant woman first feels her baby move. This typically happens around the 16th week of pregnancy but can occur earlier or later depending on the individual woman. The baby’s movements are often described as flutters, kicks, light tapping, or the fluttering of a butterfly. It can be quite faint at first. As the pregnancy progresses, the baby’s movements become stronger and more frequent.

Quickening can be a very exciting moment for a pregnant woman, but it can also be a cause for concern if there are any risk factors or complications associated with it.

Some of the risk factors associated with quickening include:

  • previous miscarriages or stillbirths
  • bleeding during pregnancy
  • placenta previa (a condition where the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix)
  • twins or multiple pregnancies
  • history of preterm labor
  • overweight or obese
  • smoking
  • drinking alcohol
  • using illicit drugs
  • high blood pressure

Any of these risk factors can increase the chances of experiencing complications during quickening, such as:

  1. preterm labor
  2. placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before delivery)
  3. premature rupture of membranes (when the amniotic sac breaks before labor begins)
  4. premature birth
  5. low birth weight baby
  6. stillbirth

This image shows how often the term ‘Quickening’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

It is important to discuss any concerns or risk factors with your healthcare provider before quickening occurs. They will be able to provide more information and help you plan for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Other terms closely related to quickening include Braxton Hicks contractions, fetal movement, and pregnancy flutters.

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