Changes in Fetal Movement: Location, Frequency and Intensity

Moms usually feel the first fetal movements (quickening) sometime in-between Weeks 17 and 23. You could have jumped onto cloud 9 at the quickening, but started putting fetal movements at the back of your mind once you got used to it. Fetal movements, however, can sometimes be an SOS from your baby. Let’s get down to decoding your baby’s SOS message.

Changes in fetal movement: Count baby’s movements

pregnant woman fetal movement belly clock

Whether the fetus’ movements are normal or not can be determined through the number of times. The “10 movements in 2 hours” count is a measure that will help you determine if your baby’s movements are considered “normal” or “abnormal”. You can do this count at home!

Changes in fetal movement: What does a decrease mean?

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Fetal movement is a barometer telling you whether your baby is doing well or not. Your baby might be kicking at you with all their might, but you don’t have to worry! Rather, you can rest assured because you sure have an active baby there! Vigorous fetal movement isn’t considered a problem medically, and when the baby grows, they will kick, turn, hiccup and do a variety of actions. It’s natural that fetal movements become stronger as the weeks go by!

What you need to take note of, however, is actually a decrease in fetal movement. A decrease in fetal movement might be an indication that not enough oxygen or nutrients are going to the baby and problems like a decrease in fetal heart rate could follow.

When the baby has developed a sleep-wake cycle that repeats itself every 20 to 40 minutes, the baby might be sleeping and so there might be no fetal movements at times. However, this means that you’ll still have fetal movements a few times a day.

Take note of the number of fetal movements you feel a day so you’ll know immediately if something is wrong with your baby. If you don’t feel any movement at all for more than half a day, this might just be an “SOS” from your baby! Call your OB-GYN without delay and get yourself checked as soon as you can.

Abnormal fetal movements: Do I have a breech baby?

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Babies usually settle down into a position sometime around Week 32 and stay in that position until labor and delivery. Prior to that, the baby turns around in the uterus, going into a breech position and then back to a vertex position. As a result, you might feel fetal movement in different areas of your abdomen each day.

When the baby’s head becomes heavier and gravity acts on it, the baby’s head will slowly drop down and the baby will move into a heads-down position in the amniotic fluid. However, about 3 to 4% of babies seem to ignore the effects of gravity and stay in a breech position.

A breech baby up to Week 29 has a high probability of correcting their own position to a vertex presentation, but after Week 29 passes and the fetal movements feel like they’re coming from your vaginal area, or if you feel like your bladder is compressed, make sure you go for a checkup. Feeling fetal movement in different areas might mean that you have a breech baby and that you need to talk to your OB-GYN about how you can try to help your baby correct their positions.

If you feel changes in fetal movement, talk to your OB-GYN

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Fetal movements are the only method through which your baby can communicate with you. Think of these fetal movements as Morse codes and that you could very well receive a distress signal someday.

Fetal movement will decrease when your baby drops and their head becomes engaged. Remember that you should feel your baby move at least once in a 24-hour period. If no movements come, this is your baby’s “SOS” call, so call your OB-GYN immediately.