Change in Movements
You already know that #MovementsMatter. So what do you do if you notice a change? SEEK HELP.
This is the most critical part of monitoring your baby's movements during pregnancy: If you notice any changes, you need to get checked out RIGHT away. Even if you have an appointment soon, it's better to #AlwaysAsk, and don't hesitate to #UseYourMomVoice to ensure your concerns are heard. Remember: no one knows your baby better than YOU!
Download our International Consensus Statement on Fetal Movement & How to Keep Your Baby Safe (PDF) here!
What should I do if I notice a change in fetal movement?
Go to the hospital immediately if you notice any changes or feel concerned. They are available 24/7 for you and your baby to get checked. Don't put off getting checked until the next day, and don't wait until your next scheduled appointment.
You can call your provider to let them know you are coming. However, you do not need their permission to go in or to get checked. Concerns about movements cannot be checked from home - you need to go to the hospital immediately.
A change in movements can be an early sign and sometimes the ONLY warning sign that your baby needs help. If reported promptly, there is a window of opportunity in which your or your baby’s life may be saved.
Some examples of a change include less movement, weaker movements, or an unusual rapid increase in movement (anything noticeably different from your baby's normal patterns and which might be described as "frantic" "wild" "jerky" "going crazy" etc.). Trust your gut instincts.
You should not be discharged until you are happy with your baby's movements. Do NOT go home if you are not feeling reassured.
DO NOT use handheld monitors, dopplers, or phone apps to check your baby’s heartbeat. Even if you detect a heartbeat, this does not mean your baby is well.
DO NOT waste time drinking cold water or eating something sugary to get your baby moving, or starting a new kick count, even if asked by a healthcare professional - just go get checked out immediately.
What if I notice a change in my baby’s movements again?
You should get your baby checked immediately every time it happens. Even if everything was fine last time, your baby needs to be checked again. You're always doing the right thing by getting your baby checked.
Why are my baby’s movements important?
Most parents who had a stillbirth noticed their baby’s movements had changed. A change in movement can also be a warning sign of other problems. The sooner you seek care, the sooner you and your baby can be checked and given the right care. This could save you or your baby's life.
It is NOT true that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy
Babies do NOT run out of room
You should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labor and during labor too
More in-depth info below about changes in fetal movement - keep reading to learn more!
Speaking Up Can Save a Life - Really!
If you or someone you know is experiencing a change in their baby's movements during pregnancy, it is absolutely critical that you speak up.
Pregnant families often worry that they will be "bothering" their healthcare providers by calling with concerns. Nothing can be further from the truth. Your provider wants to hear from you with every concern. Their top priority is keeping you and your baby safe. If someone you love is debating whether or not to seek medical care, your encouragement could be the push they need to take swift action - and that action can have life-changing results:
"When I arrived at [my 37 week] appointment, I indicated to the nurse that the baby was not moving as much as she normally did. The nurse attempted to reassure me by telling me that babies move less at the end of pregnancy because they run out of room [which I now know is a dangerous myth]. Shortly after beginning the growth scan, the sonographer discovered that I had lost over half of my amniotic fluid. I had no sign that my water was leaking. I was immediately induced, and our sweet Mabel Rose arrived quickly, but healthy. The only red flag that there was a problem with the pregnancy was my daughter’s change in movement." --Meghan A., Mabel’s mom
"At 37 weeks I went to my scheduled appointment and despite my and the nurses’ efforts to get him to move, he failed his NST and BPP. At this point, I was telling the healthcare team that my baby is normally active, this was not his normal movement, and I just knew something was wrong. The care team kept telling me he was just sleeping and felt it would be OK for me to go home [but] I insisted that I needed to stay. Only after strongly advocating to stay did the doctor agree to induce me. Thankfully, I did deliver my son healthy, but with the cord around his neck and arm which was certainly restricting his movement. Kai-Dalton was telling me something was wrong, and I am glad I had the knowledge about his movement, so I felt empowered to speak up." --Vanessa O., Kai-Dalton’s mom
"I noticed that my daughter was moving, but her movements were slower and felt different than before. I called my OB and they had me report to the hospital. During [testing, my doctor] too became concerned about her movement and determined that the best thing for Piper was to deliver her via C-section at 28 weeks. Upon delivery, [the doctors] noticed placental damage and what looked to be the beginnings of a full placental abruption. Piper’s lifeline was failing and not getting her enough of the oxygen and nutrients she needed to grow and thrive. I am so grateful I had been tracking Piper’s movements with the Count the Kicks App because it supported my intuition that something was wrong, and that I needed to speak up on behalf of my daughter. Her pregnancy could have ended so very differently." --Kendra P., Piper’s mom
Read these baby save stories & many more from Count the Kicks!
In-Depth FAQs About Fetal Movements
Why are my baby’s movements important?
Your baby's movements are a sign of their wellbeing. A reduction or change in your baby’s movements can sometimes be a warning sign that they're unwell. It's important to know that: 1. It's NOT true that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy 2. You should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labor and while you are in labor too 3. When babies are unwell, they slow down their movements to preserve energy. When you feel less movements it could be a sign that your baby is unwell 4. There is time to intervene. Come to the hospital straight away so that your baby can be checked out. If there is something wrong this gives time to help your baby 5. While stillbirth is very rare, it is 10 times more likely to happen than SIDS. Studies have shown that over half of women who experienced a stillbirth noticed a reduction in baby movements