What is really happening when the baby kicks? What causes this? How often should I feel the baby kicking?
Babies kick if they are healthy just to get their exercise. Humans are not motionless by nature! If you have an opportunity to be around a newborn, you will see that they are constant-motion machines unless they are sleeping, and many of them are even when they are asleep! :-)
As for how often they should kick, that really varies depending on the baby. One of the fun things about being pregnant is to get to know your baby before s/he is even born. You will probably know when your baby is most active and when your baby sleeps. Some providers like you to do "kick counts" in later pregnancy, and keep track of how long it takes to get 10 kicks during a "busy" time.
I tell my clients that if their baby is not acting like they usually do ("my baby is always jumping on a trampoline at 11 p.m.!), to drink some orange juice, lie on their side and pay attention to their baby. If it really isn't doing anything at all, they need to call me.
Bur remember that at the end of pregnancy, the baby is running out of room in there, so there may be more "squirming" than "kicking," which also counts!
Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.