Fetal Movements

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Why are fetal movements important?

Fetal movements are one of the first indicators of fetal wellbeing. Fetal movements help you and your midwife to know that baby is getting enough oxygen and nutrients to grow and stay healthy. Reduced fetal movements on the other hand, indicate that baby needs to be assessed for potential complications.

How do we tell if baby is moving enough?

After 26 weeks, baby should be moving regularly and start to follow a pattern of movements. For example, some babies move more at night, some move more first thing in the morning. Just start to pay attention and you will notice your baby’s special pattern. Some babies just move all the time… and that’s fine too.

Changes in movements as baby grows:

As baby gets bigger and takes up more space in your uterus, you may notice a change in the quality of fetal movements. This is normal. What used to feel like big punches, may now feel like nudges. These still count as movements. What is NOT normal, is for the number of baby’s movements to be reduced. In summary, a change in quality of movements is ok, a change in quantity of movements is not.

Kick Counts

After 26 weeks, you can do a kick count, if you are ever worried that the baby is not moving enough. With a kick count, you want to get 6 movements in 2 hours. If you do NOT get 6 movements in 2 hours, page your midwife immediately. You only need to do one kick count in 24h and only if you are worried baby is not moving enough!

How to do a kick count:

  1. Remove all distractions from the area. No phone or TV and try to have someone else look after your older children, if possible. Partners, please do NOT be a distraction.
  2. Lie down on your left side and place both hands on your abdomen
  3. Count baby’s movements. Every movement counts, some may be close together, others spaced out.
  4. Once you get 6 movements, you can stop counting (even if it has only been a few minutes)
  5. If you get to the end of 2 hours and have counted less than 6 movements, page your midwife.

If you are ever worried about your baby’s movements, you can page your midwife. Normally, “have you done a kick count” will be one of the first questions she asks you. So you might want to do your kick count prior to paging your midwife. Kick counts are a great tool providing you, your family and your midwife with reassurance regarding the baby’s wellbeing or need for assessment.