Fetal Movements

One of the easiest ways to tell if a baby is healthy is to see how much he or she is moving. Women should be encouraged to get to know their babies own individual movement patterns throughout their pregnancy. If women are worried their baby is moving less than normal or has stopped, they should be encouraged to call their maternity unit straight away.

Professionals, who support pregnant women, can encourage them to get to know their babies movements through the promotion of the following key messages:

  • Every baby is different. It is good to get to know their baby’s own movements and the pattern of when they are moving or not.  This will help them to know if he or she is moving less than normal or have stopped. If women are worried their baby is moving less than normal or has stopped, they should be encouraged to call their maternity unit straight away.
  • Most women begin to feel their baby move between 18-24 weeks. At first it may feel like ‘bubbles’, ‘flutterings’ or ‘like trapped wind’.
  • Between weeks 24-36, women will start to recognise their baby movements more quickly and become more used to the feeling. It is usually easier to feel the baby’s movements when they are lying down, e.g. at night time
  • The type of movements may change during pregnancy, but how often the baby moves should not.
  • At 36-42 weeks, the baby will have less room for big movements. What women are likely to feel are arm or leg movements, and rolling. The baby should continue to move in their usual pattern in the final weeks of pregnancy and before going into labour. If women are worried he or she is moving less than normal or has stopped, they should call their maternity unit straight away. The number for their maternity unit can be found in their Maternity Notes. It might be a sign that the baby is unwell. The maternity unit can provide the care and support women need. They can carry out some tests and checks to check that the baby is well.

If the baby has not moved as he or she would usually move then women should be encouraged to:

1: Find space and time to lie down for one hour on their left side.

2: Have a hot or a cool drink.

3: Try to concentrate on what they are feeling. Don’t watch TV or read as this might cause a distraction.

 

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