Decreased Fetal Movement

Pregnancy is the most widely discussed topic, but there is still no agreement on the normal value of fetal movements over a specified period of time. For example, fetal movements per hour may range from 4 to 100, therefore deciding the limit for reduced fetal movements is rather difficult if you are counting fetal movements in 2, 12 or 24 hours. So what really is decreased fetal movement? It is when the baby’s normal movement pattern is altered or the number of fetal movements is reduced. To understand this well, it is essential to know the regular movement pattern of your baby.

Causes of Decreased Fetal Movement

1. Maternal Stress or Nutrition Deficiencies of Mother

The physical and emotional condition of a mother greatly affects the number of fetal movements. The release of hormones involved in stress and periods may result in the temporarily reduced movements of the baby. It is essential that the mother is in a healthy state and eats and drinks adequately as fasting or dehydration may also result in decreased fetal movement.

2. Placental Abruption

Placenta is responsible for nourishing and feeding the baby, therefore placental abruption may lead to decreased fetal movement. In this condition the placenta detaches from the uterine wall. At times this abruption heals on its own; however if severe, it may lead to inadequate or restricted supply of blood and oxygen to the baby, consequently leading to fetal demise. Therefore immediate measures must be taken.

3. Sleep Routines

Babies have very proper sleep cycles even when they are within the maternal womb. Each cycle usually lasts for about 20 to 40 minutes. This is the normal sleep cycle duration but if it exceeds 90 minutes then it is definitely not good. During their sleep cycle, babies don’t tend to move much.

4. Premature Rupture of Membranes

At times, rupture or leak in the amniotic sac surrounding the baby may also result in reduced fetal movements. Rupturing of the membrane or leaking of the water is part of the normal delivery process, but if it occurs prior to the delivery then it may be a sign of trouble.Amniotic fluid helps protect the developing baby. Leaks may promote stress and chances of infection, and cause inadequate oxygen and nitrogen supply to fetus. All of these factors can lead to decreased fetal movements.

5. Fetal Hypoxia

This is a very serious medical condition that is characterized by failure of the umbilical cord to supply adequate amount of oxygenated blood to the baby. As a result, the baby may suffer long term effects on the overall development and the brain. It usually occurs if the cord is twisted or kinked, but it may also be due to improper formation of the cord. The sudden decline in oxygen supply leads to decreased fetal movement as the baby’s body tries to save energy by not moving around.

6. Fetal Demise

Rarely, decreased fetal movement may be due to a medical condition called fetal demise, characterized by the baby’s death. The exact reason yet still remains unknown. At times, a cause may be identified such as trauma or infection, but that is not always the case.

Tracking Fetal Movement

According to healthcare professionals, pregnant moms should keep track of their baby’s movements throughout pregnancy. Noting down the intensity, frequency and time of jabs and kicks of the baby may help moms know whether the decline random or if it’s decreased fetal movement. According to many mothers, babies can be both very active and very still andfluctuation in movements is normal, and to know what’s normal is reassuring.

Tips for Counting Fetal Movement

In order to count the movements of the baby, lie on the left side while supporting the bump. Staying still for at least a couple of hours will help in feeling about 10 or more individual movements of the baby. It is easier to feel the baby’s movements when lying down instead of sitting. It is difficult to notice any movement when standing. Listed below are some quick and effective ways that can encourage the baby’s movements:

  • Put your feet up, grab something to munch and relax in a stress-free zone. Babies tend to stay asleep when moms are busy moving around, however when they begin to eat food, the babies wake up.
  • A cold drink may also be helpful as the baby might react to the change in temperature and move a little. Drinks rich in sugar may enhance the movements of the baby even more.
  • Making noise like playing loud music or slamming the door may trigger some movements of your baby.

Signs to Call Your Doctor

It is recommended to seek immediate medical help when experiencing the signs listed below:

  • If there are no greater than ten individual movements even when lying on the left side for a couple of hours.
  • If the baby stays still and doesn’t respond to any noise or related stimulus.
  • If there is a significant decrease in the fetal movements, or one that happens during a couple of days.

Other clues that may suggest the baby is sick include past complication of the mother or if the baby measures small-for-dates.

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