What is ‘quickening’ in pregnancy after Queen Charlotte scene stirs up interest?

Queen Charlotte has seen searches surrounding pregnancy quickening spike. (Netflix)
Queen Charlotte has seen searches surrounding pregnancy quickening spike. (Netflix)

Bridgerton spin-off series Queen Charlotte has left many fans wondering about the meaning of a pregnancy term, which featured in one of the episodes – quickening.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story explores the protagonist's struggles as a new monarch and finding her voice following her wedding to King George.

In one of the episodes, in which Charlotte is confirmed to be expecting a baby, the Dowager Princess says they should wait until her "quickening" to announce the pregnancy, leaving fans with questions and wanting to know more.

Data from women's health app, Flo, shows that over the past few days there has been a 110% increase in search volume on Google for 'quickening definition'. Similarly, search trends for 'what is quickening in pregnancy' and 'what does quickening feel like' have spiked by 130% and 50%, respectively, highlighting a surge in interest in the topic.

Read more: Four sisters pregnant at the same time will all welcome babies this year

What does quickening mean in pregnancy? (Getty)
What does quickening mean in pregnancy? (Getty)

So what is quickening?

In pregnancy, quickening is the first time you feel your baby move in your womb. This usually occurs in your second trimester of pregnancy, although it can occur earlier or later.

According to experts, it can feel like a fluttering or bubbling sensation, like butterfly wings inside your abdomen.

"While your baby will start moving around 12 weeks of pregnancy, you’ll unlikely feel anything that early," explains Dr Andrea Maduro, medical advisor at Flo.

"It probably won’t be until you are 16 to 24 weeks into your pregnancy, around your second trimester, when you’ll be able to feel your baby move."

Watch: Four sisters are pregnant at the same time

However, it’s important to remember everyone is different, so try not to compare yourself.

"Also, know that various factors can impact the timing of when you feel those first movements, including previous pregnancies and your placenta’s position," Dr Maduro adds.

Everybody feels quickening slightly differently, and the first time is usually very subtle.

"As your baby grows, those movements will become stronger and longer," Dr Maduro explains. "You are more likely to notice quickening when you are in a relaxed state.

"Some say it feels like fluttering butterfly wings inside your abdomen, while others describe it as gas bubbles, like flatulence. This is why it can be tricky for first-time parents to recognise quickening when it occurs."

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Quickening, cramps, and kicking: What are the differences?

According to Dr Maduro quickening is that initial flutter from your baby, but any movements you feel from then on are known as baby kicks, baby movements, or foetal movements.

Cramps, however, are different and in pregnancy, they can be caused by several things, such as your uterus moving around, not your baby.

"You might get cramps from your uterus stretching and growing throughout your pregnancy," Dr Maduro continues. "These feel similar to period cramps."

While cramps during pregnancy are usually nothing to worry about, if something doesn’t feel right or if you're concerned, you should speak to your health care provider.

Read more: Millie Mackintosh shares important message about caesarean births: ‘The narrative around C-sections needs to change’

Quickening occurs usually between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. (Getty)
Quickening occurs usually between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. (Getty)

What if you don’t feel quickening?

It’s natural to worry if you don’t feel any movement from your baby as your pregnancy progresses.

"If you have concerns about your baby’s movements or lack of movement, you should always contact your doctor," Dr Maduro advises. "They will check your baby’s heartbeat to confirm the health of your baby.

"By 24 weeks of pregnancy, you will likely have seen a healthcare provider, and if you don’t feel any movement for longer periods of time after 24 weeks or still haven’t felt your baby move by this time, then be sure to contact your healthcare provider."

If this happens to you, try not to panic.

"Your baby may be absolutely fine, but the movements may not be strong enough for you to feel them yet," Dr Maduro says. "It can be reassuring to watch your baby move on an ultrasound or hear their heartbeat, so ensure you get checked out for peace of mind."

Read more: Kate Ferdinand praised for helping to break the pregnancy ’12-week rule’: ‘I told people close to me’

What should you do if your baby moves less?

If you feel that you have decreased foetal movements, you should contact your doctor immediately.

"But again, try not to panic. Feeling less movement from your baby isn’t always a sign of something serious," Dr Maduro adds.