Fetal movement durning pregnancy is an important indicator of the health of the baby, especially during the third trimester. Use these tips to help you track the baby’s kicks, especially if you think fetal movement may have slowed.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m pregnant one of my biggest concerns, and biggest comforts, is fetal movement. I want to know when I will feel the baby move/kick for the first time and how often he should be moving around. Especially as a mother who has struggled with pregnancy loss, I understand the potential anxiety surrounding fetal movement.
When I look back now I laugh at how naive I was with my first. He would move and kick and I would just get annoyed! I couldn’t believe how uncomfortable he could make me by curling up under my ribs or by using my bladder for kicking practice.
But with my second, every kick and movement felt special and brought comfort. I lost two babies between my first and second sons, it was devastating. And during my second pregnancy there was nothing that brought me greater peace than feeling my son kick!
Of course, there were days when I would worry. Was he kicking enough? I can’t remember if I felt him move yet today! And I would start to panic.
Luckily, my doctor told me about a way that I could track fetal movement at home. And once I hit my third trimester I followed these guidelines about once a day. (Not because I really needed to, mostly because I was a nervous wreck!)
***Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional, my suggestions are anecdotal based on my experience with three successful pregnancies and what my doctors advised along the way. This post should not be taken in place of medical advice and is not intended to be medical advice. If you are ever worried about your baby please call your doctor or head to an emergency room.***
Call Your Doctor
Don’t be afraid to call your doctor. Even if it seems silly, even if you’ve already called three times that day. Call again! Let the doctors and nurses do their job and provide medical assistance. Remember, they are the experts, it’s ok to ask questions and raise concerns.
I remember once when I was pregnant with my first baby I called the doctor in the middle of my work day in a total panic because I couldn’t remember the last time I felt the baby move.
The nurse asked me a bunch of questions and once she realized I was almost full-term she said it can be normal for fetal movement to slow at that point because the baby is so big he’s running out of room! Phew!!! What a relief!
After that I did a kick count (which we'll talk about in a minute) and the baby was moving plenty. I'm so glad I called the doctor when I did, she put my mind at ease and I saved myself a frantic trip to the ER!
Do NOT Panic
If you're anything like me you're probably already panicking. You might be thinking to yourself "Don't panic? Yeah right!! That ship sailed a long time ago." But hear me out. Stress and panicking won't do you any good. It's not going to make the baby start moving more and it won't put your mind at ease.
Try to take some deep breaths and relax! Think positive thoughts and try to remember the last time you felt the baby move, I bet it wasn't as long ago as you might think.
HOW TO Track Fetal Movement
Ok the unofficial term for this is a kick count and it's really easy. My doctor told me about this little pregnancy tip (I'm sure during one of my many panicked phone calls) and I cannot tell you how many times I've done it, and every time it puts my mind at ease.
What You Will Need:
- A timer
- A quite place to lie down (or at the very least to sit)
- Up to an hour of time
How to Perform the Kick Count:
I have found that usually the baby is moving quite a bit, I am just not noticing it. And that could be because I'm busy running around with my other kids, I'm used to the kicks so I don't always register when they're happening, or he's not kicking very hard.
The idea here is that you want to feel baby move 10 times within one hour-ish. This is what my doctor told me, and remember this is for women in their third trimester, typically beyond 30+ weeks.
- Eat a snack: Babies get sleepy just like us and a snack can help to wake them up and get them moving! Your best bet is going to be something sweet AND cold AND something you can get down pretty quick. Think a cookie followed by a cold glass of milk. Maybe a few big sips of a milkshake, even a single glass of OJ could do the trick. If nothing else, some ice cold water will probably get baby moving, but I've found I have the best results if I can get down something sweet AND cold.
- Lie down on your left side: I can't remember if my doc told me the left side was better or if that's based on experience. Either way, I always found my left side to be most successful. I've also found that bringing my knees as close to my belly as I can (think legs bent instead of stretched out) helps as well. I think smushing the uterus (that's a very official term) helps me feel the baby better. If you can't lie down (because you're at work or somewhere you don't feel comfortable lying down) try sitting in a comfortable chair and leaning forward. You're not trying to smash the baby, but I think it's easier to feel the baby move that way. If you're going to be lying down anyway, I highly recommend this body pillow, it's the same one I have and I love it!
- Set the timer for one hour: You want to feel 10 movements within an hour. I find it easiest to use the timer on my phone rather than watching a clock. I also use the stopwatch feature to count kicks. (there are also several different apps you can download to help you time and track movements).
- Count every movement you feel: Now all you have to do is count. Don't panic if you don't feel anything right away, remember you have a whole hour (this is why it's important to make sure you have sufficient time to perform the kick count). It might take baby a bit to start moving, it might take you a few minutes to find a comfy position. I always like to count up to at least 15, just to make extra sure!
If for some reason you can't do the whole process just set a timer on your phone and start counting. Again, a lot of times the baby is moving you just don't always realize it.
Once you've hit 10 kicks...
.....within an hour you can stop (even if the kicks come within the first 20 minutes). Hopefully that gives you peace of mind that baby is moving just fine.
If you're still worried or you didn't count 10 movements within an hour call your doctor!
It's not uncommon to worry that fetal movement has slowed, but often times there's nothing to worry about. Remember to always be in contact with your doctor, especially if you're concerned. You can try using a kick count at home to help put your mind at ease!