Why it is important to monitor your baby's movements?
What to look out for and most importantly what to do if they slow down or stop.
Did you know a decrease in baby's movements can be a key warning sign that a baby is in distress and 50% of mothers who had a stillbirth noticed slowing down of baby's movements beforehand?
So read on and find out how to monitor your baby's movements and what to do when their pattern of movements/kicks changes.
From around 16 - 24 weeks you begin to feel your baby as they move around in the womb and have a good understanding for how much they "kick", when and where. Your baby's movements are a reassuring sign that they are well if you notice a change then trust your instincts don't delay and get yourself checked out by your midwife or gynaecologist.
Most people usually start to feel their baby move between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. You may feel your baby move as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy, especially if you’ve been pregnant before. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not notice your baby’s movements until you are more than 20 weeks pregnant.
What does baby movement feel like?
A baby’s movements can be anything from a kick, flutter, punch, swish or roll. The type of movement may change as your pregnancy progresses. Baby movement is often referred to as ‘baby kicks’
How often should my baby move?
All babies are different! There is no set number of normal movements. From 16 – 24 weeks on you should feel your baby move more and more until 32 weeks. After 32 weeks, movements should stay roughly the same until you give birth. It’s important to get to know your baby’s regular pattern of movement.
Why are my baby’s movements important?
Your baby’s movements are a sign of their well-being. A reduction or change in your baby’s movements can sometimes be a warning sign that they’re unwell. It’s important to know that it’s NOT true that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy. You should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour and whilst you are in labour too.
Why would my baby’s movement reduce?
When the baby is being deprived of oxygen they will slow their movements to conserve oxygen. Cord compression, a failing placenta, or a high intake of smoke may all lead to reduced movements and could be potentially fatal.
What should I do if I notice reduced movement?
If you think your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped, contact your midwife, gynaecolgist or maternity unit immediately. Midwives and doctors are there to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don’t put off calling until the next day or wait until your next scheduled appointment. Don’t worry about picking up the phone, it’s important for your doctors and midwives to know if your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped.
What if my baby’s movements are reduced again?
You should contact your maternity unit again, however many times it happens. Even if everything was normal last time, don’t hesitate to contact your midwife or maternity unit for advice. You’re always doing the right thing.
don’t ignore your instincts, don’t ever put off getting movements checked and make sure you’re aware of any changes in movements as it could quite literally save your baby’s life
Why are my baby’s movements important?
Your baby's movements are a sign of their wellbeing. A reduction or change in your baby’s movements can sometimes be a warning sign that they're unwell. It's important to know that:
If my baby's movements change does it mean my baby is definitely unwell?
Not at all. Checks by medical professionals usually find that everything is OK. Most women who report one or less episodes of reduced movement go on to have a healthy baby and straightforward pregnancy.
However, it's important to be checked to make sure the change isn't because your baby is one of the few that are unwell. Reporting concerns about your baby's movements could save their life.
Should I prompt my baby to move?
As it can cause a delay in getting medical advice, trying to make your baby move isn't recommended. If your baby's movements are concerning you, always call your maternity unit/midwife or gynaecologist.
Should I use a phone app or home doppler to check the baby's heartbeat?
Please don't use any device to check your baby's heartbeat, especially if you're concerned about their wellbeing. Even if you think you're listening to their heartbeat, it's possible you're actually listening to your own. The presence of a heartbeat alone does not mean your baby is well too- you both need to be checked by a healthcare professional if you're worried.
Kicks Count aims to reduce the UK's high stillbirth and neonatal death rate by raising awareness of baby movements. You can find more out about Kicks Count here
Adapted from the Kicks Count website (Jan 2023)