Your Baby’s Movements in Pregnancy

  • Reference Number: HEY-721/2015E
  • Departments: Maternity Services

Your Baby’s Movements in Pregnancy - Information For Mothers

You must not wait until the next day to seek help if you are worried about your baby’s movements.

What are normal movements?

Most women usually begin to feel their baby move between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy but some will not become aware of movements until after this. Baby’s movements in pregnancy can be described as anything from a kick, flutter, swish or roll. The type of movement may change as your pregnancy progresses.

How often should my baby move?

There is no specific number of normal movements. Your baby should develop an individual pattern of movements that you will become aware of. They will have sleep periods during which they will not move, but these rarely last longer than 90 minutes. The number of movements tends to increase until 32 weeks of pregnancy and then stay about the same. It is important to remember that you should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour and throughout labour too.

Why are my baby’s movements important?

Feeling your baby move provides reassurance that they are well.

  • A reduction in your baby’s movements or a change in the pattern can sometimes be an important warning sign that a baby is unwell.
  • Reduced movements can be associated with stillbirth. This is a risk for any pregnancy.
  • In most cases the baby will be born healthy, but it is important to get checked.

What do I need to do if I am worried about my baby’s movements?

If you feel that your baby is not moving as much as usual, you should lie down on your left side and focus on the movements for the next 2 hours. If you do not feel 10 or more separate movements during these 2 hours, you should seek help as soon as possible (see below).

1 in every 200 births in England ends in stillbirth.

Your baby’s movements are an important way of checking they are well.

If you are less than 28 weeks pregnant you should contact your Community Midwife who will arrange to see you as soon as possible. If you have any difficulties with contacting your Community Midwife please contact the Antenatal Day Unit.

If you are more than 28 weeks pregnant you should contact the Antenatal Day Unit at the Women and Childrens Hospital who will arrange to see you as soon as possible, telephone: 01482 382729.

What will happen when I am seen?

The care you will be given will depend on your stage of pregnancy:

If you are less than 28 weeks pregnant the midwife will listen to your baby’s heartbeat and perform a full antenatal check-up. If there are any additional concerns it may be necessary to refer you to the hospital the same day for further assessment.

If you are over 28 weeks pregnant the Antenatal Day Unit midwives will listen to your baby’s heartbeat and perform a full antenatal check-up. They will put you on a machine that monitors your baby’s heartbeat. This can last up to an hour and provides information about your baby’s wellbeing. Many babies will start to move normally after this and you will usually be able to go home. In some cases it may be necessary for you to be seen by a doctor and an ultrasound scan may be arranged. Very rarely it may be safer for your baby to be born as soon as possible.

What if my baby’s movements are reduced again?

If after discharge you are still not happy with your baby’s movement, you must contact the Antenatal Day Unit immediately, even if everything was normal when you were initially seen. Never hesitate to contact the Antenatal Day Unit for advice; no matter how many times this happens.

Contact details.

Community Midwives: See front page of your handheld notes.
Antenatal Day Unit: 01482 382729.

NB: Out of hours the Antenatal Day Unit telephone is transferred to Maple Ward where you will be seen.

Sources and acknowledgements.

This information is based on the RCOG guideline ‘Reduced Fetal Movements’ (February 2011) and the Patient Information Leaflet ‘Your baby’s movements in pregnancy: information for you’ (August 2012).

Adapted from Cheshire & Merseyside SCN publication, with acknowledgement and thanks.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

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