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Health & Pregnancy

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Quickening, Sex and Other Pregnancy Things

When Can You Feel the baby move?

WebMD Feature

It's possible, but not common.

This is a good time to revisit the difference between normal and average. Picture a nice bell-shaped curve and remember that for a given characteristic the normal range is larger than the average range, or peak. People talk in averages because they're most common. But just because something isn't average, doesn't necessarily mean it's abnormal or impossible.

Back to your friend. When a pregnant woman is likely to first feel her baby move, called quickening, depends on several things.

"Most of the time, if it's her first baby, it's around 20 weeks that they'll feel little flutters," says certified nurse-midwife Marion McCartney, who practiced for 24 years before becoming director of professional services for the American College of Nurse-Midwives. In subsequent pregnancies women notice quickening sooner, around 16 weeks, she says. Thinner women also tend to feel quickening sooner.

"She may be a couple weeks off on her dates, too," McCartney says.

A fetus is still pretty small at three months -- it's about four inches and weighs just over an ounce. It's bigger and increasingly active by the end of the fourth month. But occasionally women feel movement as early as 12 weeks.

If your friend is thin, extra perceptive, on a second or higher pregnancy, a bit off in her timing, or carrying a rambunctious baby, she may well be feeling those flutters. And who are any of the rest of us to tell her she's not?

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