What is a transcendental moment for you? Life is full of them, it is true. If you are pregnant, you will know that one of those moments is when you feel your baby moving inside you because with each “nudge”, “kick” or “push” he tells you: “Mommy, I am alive and my development is healthy!”

Baby Creysi

Fetal movements, as they are known in the medical field, are the first signs that a mother can perceive about the well-being of her child inside the uterus. The reduction of these is associated with causes such as that the fetus sleeps, medications with steroids for lung maturation, drugs for blood pressure, or infections that damage the concentration of oxygen.

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The first kicks

Dr. Mercedes del Pilar Alvarez Goris, a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics, explains that from week 20 -between month two and three- the mother can already detect the activity of her little one. At this stage of pregnancy, the tummy has more amniotic fluid, therefore there is more space for it to jump, bounce and explore the environment.

There are different movement patterns that depend on the trimester you are in and your habits. For example, it is common to notice them better at night, due to the state of relaxation caused by rest. However, these also tend to increase after meals, as a consequence of increased levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood, according to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

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“There are calm and restless babies, but in no case should there be periods of inactivity of more than two hours”.

Mercedes del Pilar, specialist in gynecology and obstetrics.

Detect possible dangers

Of course, it is valid to feel fear! Especially if you have already faced a painful experience or someone close to you has. However, you need to be aware that no baby moves the same as another does. The specialist Mercedes del Pilar points out that the “normal” thing is to feel approximately 10 fetal movements per hour, but it is not a number that should be considered a rule. There are little ones who only do it two, three or five times and they develop in a healthy way.

On the other hand, the mother can be exposed to situations that reduce her perception of the movements of the fetus. The Barcelona Clinic highlights the following:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Taking sedatives or antidepressants
  • Maternal stress
  • Standing for a long time
  • Excessive or intense physical exercise
  • Fasting for hours

“At the end of the pregnancy, the movements diminish at the same time as the duration of fetal sleep is extended”.

Clinic Barcelona

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Few fetal movements, what do I do?

Fetal movements are considered to be scarce when the woman has not felt the baby for more than two hours, even with external stimulation, such as eating food (it is important to avoid fasts longer than eight hours, for this it is recommended to eat five meals a day or include snacks), moving the tummy through gentle massages, talking or making a loud noise.

If there is no response, it is important that you call your doctor immediately to carry out a fetal well-being test, which consists of performing an ultrasound to identify movements and heart rhythm or a cardiotocographic recording, which tracks possible variabilities of the heartbeat rate.

If your baby is moving poorly due to a problem, the doctor will evaluate the possibility of continuing the pregnancy or terminating it with an emergency C-section.

Since conception, the dialogue between you and your baby is unique. Don’t be afraid to find out and understand it! And do not forget, along with it, go to your medical appointments for control and monitoring.

A change in the normal pattern or the number of fetal movements may mean that the baby is undergoing physical stress.

Stanford Children’s Health

Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara

Spanish version: Here