Feeling my baby move was one of the best things about pregnancy (and there wasn’t much I liked!). Towards the end, Jacob did these huge movements that were visible from the outside, and friends and family loved to feel them. One of the scariest times during pregnancy was at 30 weeks, when I had an episode of reduced fetal movement. Kick counting is so important.
Patterns of movement
I had an anterior placenta (where the placenta is at the front of the uterus), so started noticing movement relatively late—I think it was about 22 weeks. It quickly ramped up though and there was a definite pattern. Throughout the day I’d feel the odd movement, but after lunch there would always be a flurry of movements. I’d sit at my desk and baby would kick, roll and generally wriggle. The evening was another time I’d feel lots of movement—especially once I’d got into bed.
On the day I noticed reduced fetal movements it was pretty hot. I’d been busy all morning and then had a lunch meeting with my boss. We went to the local pub and sat outside in the sun. Once I got back into the office, I realised I was a bit overheated, so I had a glass of water and put my desk fan on. While trying to cool down, it suddenly dawned on me that baby wasn’t moving. As I said, after lunch was the time he’d have a little dance party in there. I told myself it was fine, and tried to get on with work. After 30 minutes I still hadn’t felt anything and I started to think calling my midwife for advice might be a good idea.
I found the number for the community team but it just went to voicemail. I didn’t want to leave a message so I hung up.After a few more minutes I decided to Google what to do, thinking I’d get some advice to drink something sugary to kick-start the sleepy baby. Fortunately, I came across the Kicks Count website. This was the advice I read:
“If you think your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped, contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately (it is staffed 24 hours, 7 days a week). Do not put off calling until the next day to see what happens.
Do not worry about phoning, it is important for your doctors and midwives to know if your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped.”
Maternity assessment unit
I immediately called the maternity unit at my local hospital. The midwife asked me when I had last felt movement. I wasn’t sure–I couldn’t be certain that I’d felt anything that day. The more I tried to think the less certain I was. The midwife asked how quickly I could get to hospital from work. When I said an hour, she asked if there was a closer hospital I could go to. That’s when I realised this could be a serious problem. I left work and went straight to a nearer hospital in a panic. The whole way there I was crying.
At the maternity assessment unit I had a breakdown to the midwife on the front desk. She whisked me off into an assessment room where I was strapped to a monitor. Hearing the heartbeat straight away was so reassuring. A student took my temperature and other observations which were all normal. Within a few minutes the baby started kicking the monitor! They needed a 20-minute heart beat trace, but I ended up staying for over an hour because the baby became so active he kept moving out of range. Typical. I can’t praise the midwives I saw highly enough. They were professional, calm and reassuring,
Everything was fine with the heartbeat, but I ended up being referred for an urgent scan the next day because the midwife measured my bump as 4 centimetres small. At the scan all was perfect, but baby had turned round, so perhaps that was why I’d felt less movement.
I’d strongly urge any pregnant woman to take a look at the Kicks Count website. It has loads of information about baby movements, and what you should be looking for. The overwhelming message is that it’s important to know whats normal for your baby, and if there’s any change in that, contact your midwife immediately. Do not wait. I felt reluctant to contact them as I thought I’d be wasting their time, but at the hospital they reiterated that they would much rather I came in if I was worried. Reduced movements can be a sign of something seriously wrong, so the sooner you get there the more potential there is for treatment. Don’t take the risk.