Understanding fetal movements
Understanding your baby’s movements
Understanding what is happening and being aware of your baby’s movements as it grows inside you is super important. One of the most amazing things you will feel is those first movements, that first little flutter. Some mothers describe those first feelings as butterflies in their tummy, which can occur anywhere between 16 and 22 weeks.
As your baby grows you will become more aware of the movements and will feel legs and arms moving as well as your baby rolling around. You may even feel when your baby has the hiccups.
Everyone is different.
Each pregnancy, each mother and each baby is different. You cannot compare movements, as things will differ.
What is important is that you learn about your body and your baby for this pregnancy. You can understand your baby’s movements and by about 28 weeks there will be quite a recognisable pattern. You will probably notice movements at certain times each day, like when you settle down on the couch for the evening… This tends to be a time that baby likes to become active. But it is also when you quieten down that you may notice the movements more.
Babies do not move all the time. Think about a newborn and how much it sleeps. Babies will sleep in-utero too and it is ok for some quiet time.
A decrease in fetal movements may be a sign that there is a risk to your baby. It could mean that your baby is unwell and is conserving energy to stay alive – similar to someone that hasn’t eaten or had anything to drink… they become tired, lethargic and quiet.
Listen to your body and trust yourself. A mother’s instinct is always right!
If you are concerned about reduced movement at any time during your pregnancy contact your health care provider immediately.
You are NEVER wasting our time. I’m on-call 24 hours a day 7 days a week, 365 days a week for this very reason.
By increasing awareness about the importance of decreased fetal movements we may be able to reduce stillbirth rates.
What we will do…
There are several tests that we will do if you are experiencing decreased fetal movements.
- Heart Rate Monitoring
- This can be done with either a hand-held Doppler or a CTG (cardiotocography).
- CTG monitoring is widely used to assess fetal well-being. We have the ability to take an electronic record of the baby’s heart rate via an ultrasound transducer which is placed on the mother’s abdomen
- Ultrasound – we may also complete an ultrasound which will give us further details on your baby. It can tell us about the activity and breathing of your baby and we can also measure, amniotic fluid, as well as fetal growth.
What is Stillbirth?
Stillbirth is defined as the birth of a baby without signs of life after 20 weeks’ gestation. It affects approximately 2200 families in Australia each year and quite often it is preventable.
Whilst the major causes of stillbirth in Australia are maternal conditions, infection, haemorrhage and spontaneous preterm birth, approximately 25% of stillbirths remain unexplained.
Stillbirth is something we need to talk about. We need to raise awareness, talk more about it and need to make it ok to ask for help anytime we have concerns. Having these conversations, especially if you have ANY concerns about decreased movement will help us reduce stillbirth.