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Fetal movement monitoring

Monitoring of fetal movement

You may want to count fetal movement from 28 weeks onwards. By 28 weeks, you would have a mental idea about how the normal range of movements over a day for this baby and this baby's pattern of movements throughout the day. Do not compare this baby's movements with the movements of other pregnant women's babies or with your previous babies' movements.

Where the baby's movements are normal or frequent, it is very reassuring. Where the baby's movements are reduced, this may be due to maternal inattention (e.g. the mother is busy), fetal sleep cycles (i.e. the fetus is sleeping during the time that you are trying to pay attention) or inadequate oxygenation to the fetus. The first 2 are the commonest reasons, while the last is the most important reason to exclude.

If you feel that the fetal movements are reduced, set aside 2 hours where you focus on the fetal movement whilst sitting up or lying on the left. Within a 2 hour period, especially in the evening, your baby typically would have woken up and slept a few cycles. If you cannot feel any movement or feel that the movements are significantly reduced in frequency, report to the hospital in the same day. At the labour ward, a CTG (cardiotocograph) which is a record of the fetal heart rate could be done quickly. Where necessary, an ultrasound scan to study the Doppler studies of the baby may be scheduled during office hours to further assess the baby. Often it is a false alarm, but it does make sense to have a check of the baby to ensure that the baby is healthy when the fetal movement is markedly reduced.

Towards the late part of the pregnancy, the character of the movement may change. The quality of the movements may change (i.e. less hard or less noticeable if one doesn't pay attention) but the quantity of the movements should not reduce drastically (i.e. the number of movements should be similar).

You could download and read any of these brochures in the different languages: Baby's movement in pregnancy (UK)


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