Stillbirth: When to Worry, and When Not to Worry, if Your Baby is Moving Less

Stillbirth: When to Worry, and When Not to Worry, if Your Baby is Moving Less

At the end of the day, you should always trust your intuition; that prickly spider-sense that tells you something if something is not right.

It has been a few weeks since your baby first started kicking and you know what it feels like to have your baby kick up a storm in your pregnant belly! Counting kicks is a daily practice and you are now aware of regular patterns with regard to your baby’s movement and have now established a sense of what is considered “normal” and “usual” when it comes to your baby. However, you suddenly noticed reduced baby movement. 

Should you worry? Not necessarily—or at least, not always. 

At theAsianparent, we have compiled a list of times that could be potentially threatening to your baby’s life and the times when you can relax and not worry. 

First, here are a few instances you don’t have to worry as long as you are recording at least 10 movements within an hour.

reduced baby movement

Should you worry if you find your baby is kicking less? Photo: iStock

Reduced baby movement: Times you should NOT worry  

Delayed movement  

Some babies start moving as early as 16 weeks, while others take their own sweet time and reward you with a few kicks only after the 24th mark of your pregnancy. 

As long as your regular check-ups show that everything is fine with baby, this is not a cause for concern. However, do alert your doctor if you have not felt any movement even after the 24th week of your pregnancy.  

 Mum has not had anything to eat in some time 

You may sometimes note that your baby is inactive if you have not had anything to eat or drink in a while. When a mum is hungry, the foetus has no resources to feed on. 

The first thing a doctor will usually tell a pregnant mother if she is concerned about her baby’s movement is to have something sweet to drink, like orange or apple juice, as the nutritional content in those foods, in particular, sugar will give mum and baby a pick-me-up. You should generally start feeling your baby move within thirty minutes of eating something.

However, do make sure this is not a common occurrence, as you should be getting enough nutrients for your body to sustain both yourself and your growing baby. Nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy are often dangerous so make sure you have an adequate intake of necessary nutrients for yourself and your baby. If you have been classified as high risk due to nutritional deficiencies, you should take reduced movement as a sign that something is potentially very wrong, and seek immediate medical help. 

reduced baby movement

Ensure you are getting adequate nutrition for your baby and yourself. Photo: iStock

Reduced baby movement: Reduced space in the womb

As your baby grows in your womb, things are definitely going to get a bit stuffy in there! While your baby’s movements may be restricted, this does not mean he/she will stop moving. You will notice a change in the type of movements – rolls and stretches instead of sharp kicks and jabs. All those movements count as “kicks”. 

Monitor your baby’s movements carefully and count their kicks so you have recorded data to provide the doctor if you feel something is not right, and you want to get it checked out. 

Reduced baby movement: Mum’s stress levels 

Your baby will usually mirror your moods, and pick up strongly on your emotions. A pregnant mother’s prenatal stress levels could easily affect her baby. While a certain amount of stress is inevitable, mothers should pay attention to stressors in their lives and avoid getting stressed as much as possible. While this is not always something within your control, your baby is in sync with your moods and you might notice periods of inactivity when you are particularly stressed. 

Baby loves to sleep!

Another common reason when you would find periods of inactivity is when your baby is having his/her “down-time”. A regular sleep-cycle lasts around 20 minutes, where babies will be less active as they would be resting, and therefore will kick less, move less and sometimes even not at all for a brief period of time. As long as you counting your kicks, and your baby matches regular patterns noted previously, you can relax mama, all is well! 

In a few cases, some babies actually enjoy sleeping quite a bit more than others! If you have a sleepy baby, you will find that they kick even less in utero. And if you are lucky, your baby will even continue sleeping more after he/she is out, providing you with some much-needed time on your hands! 

Reduced baby movement: Times you SHOULD worry

No kicking accompanied with bleeding

If you experience periods of no movement, accompanied by bleeding (even if it is mild), seek immediate medical help, in order to prevent further complications and avoid fatal outcomes that could even result in a tragic stillbirth.  

This could be a sign that a placental abruption – a condition where the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterus before the baby’s birth – is taking place. This is a serious condition that deprives the baby of oxygen and nutrients. 

Placental abruption during pregnancy may also lead to severe bleeding which is risky to both mum and baby. The condition occurs in 1 in every 150 pregnancies, after the 20th week.

Seek immediate help if you experience any vaginal bleeding, cramping or frequent contractions. You may also have back tenderness and uterine pain which could cause you to go into labour prematurely.

Stillbirth: When to Worry, and When Not to Worry, if Your Baby is Moving Less

Reduced fetal movement is sometimes a cause for concern and needs to be monitored closely by your doctor. Photo: iStock

Reduced movement accompanied by dizziness 

Another instance you definitely should be worried about and contact your doctor or hospital immediately is if you experience decreased fetal movement accompanied by feeling lightheaded, dizzy, and weak. 

These are common symptoms of a condition called Fetal hypoxia when the fetus is deprived of oxygen inside the womb and could lead to many complications for mum and baby. 

Your doctor will need to monitor you and will keep a close eye on the baby and mother’s oxygen levels. You will also be closely observed until delivery as this is a potentially fatal condition to your baby if appropriate medical help is not given in time. 

Reduced movement with a change in baby’s sleep patterns 

You will be aware of your baby’s active phases and sleep patterns if you monitor kicks regularly. If however, you notice any changes in your baby’s patterns and movements and you are concerned about it, especially if you have not felt any movement for a long period of time (over 2 hours), a visit to the doctor would be the best course of action to set your mind at ease.

At the end of the day, you should always trust your intuition; that prickly spider-sense that tells you something if something is not right. More often than not, your mummy-sense will prove to be right, and as always it is better to be safe than sorry.

You are not being a bother or nuisance to your ob-gyn and any questions, concerns, and problems you have, especially if they seem to be recurrent, must be ideally taken to your doctor at the earliest time possible in order to facilitate a pregnancy with minimal complications and the safe delivery of your child. 

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