Reduced Foetal Movement during Pregnancy: Causes, Diagnosis & more

Decreased Foetal Movement – Causes, Diagnosis, and Measures

You feel your baby’s presence in the womb by his movements only. In the initial stages, the movements may be more pronounced, and you may feel them very often. However, as you approach your labour, you may notice a decreasing trend in them. This would worry you and make you seek expert advice immediately, which is recommended, but if you haven’t noticed a decline in the foetal movement yet, you may want to read this article to increase your awareness about it. Here, we will talk about decreased foetal movement, its reasons, diagnosis, etc., which most expectant mothers find particularly helpful to calm their nerves and handle the situation better.

When Do You Usually Feel Your Baby’s Movement During Pregnancy?

You would start feeling your baby’s movement as you enter into your fourth month of pregnancy or around 16 weeks. Initially, the movement would feel more like a flutter, and the intensity increases through the succeeding months of the pregnancy. Many women cannot appreciate the movements until 22 to 24 weeks.

Is a Slowdown in Foetal Movement Normal?

Yes, it is very normal for you to notice decreased foetal movement, especially when the baby is asleep in the womb. Sometimes, it may be perceived that decreased foetal movement could be because of the growing size of the baby, but even though the baby grows bigger as the pregnancy progresses, the movements will be the same, except for the times when your baby is sleeping.

What Causes Decreased Baby Movement During Pregnancy?

The frequency of baby movement may depend on the amniotic fluid, your built, or your body fat percentage. But, there are other reasons too –

  • When your baby enters the third trimester, he may develop a sleep-wakeup pattern. This pattern may stretch from 45 minutes to an hour, which means your baby would be asleep during this time, and you would not feel any movement.
  • The movement when the baby is breathing, or when he experiences hiccups may not be that prominent too.
  • The foetal movement could also be affected due to a nuchal cord, which happens when the baby has the umbilical cord wrapped around him.
  • As you enter your 38 weeks of pregnancy, the baby may engage his head in your pelvis and prepare for birth. That is when the movements may feel restricted and not reduced.

To know when the baby’s movements have decreased, it is important for expectant mothers to keep track of the flutters, the butts, and the kicks they experience. Read on to know how you can track the baby’s movements.

How to Keep Track of Baby Kicks During Pregnancy?

If you are not able to establish whether or not your baby may be moving less frequently, we suggest that you keep track of your baby’s movement to see if everything is okay. Sleep on the left lateral side after a meal and observe the movements. It is advisable not to talk to anyone or distract your mind to track the movements precisely. You may also sit quietly in a relaxed place and try calculating your baby’s movement. At around 32 to 35 weeks of gestation, your baby may take approximately 10 movements in a span of two hours. However, if you notice any change or irregularity in your baby’s movement, you should report to your OB/GYN at once

How Does the Doctor Diagnose Reduced Foetal Movement?

If your doctor thinks that your observations may be a cause of concern, he/she would call you to the clinic for further checkup. In order to conduct a detailed examination, the doctor may recommend NST or non-stress test to check the heart rate of your unborn baby. You could be admitted in the hospital for a day or two for close observation if the NST reports are concerning. If nothing gets detected in the NST, there is a high possibility that the baby’s movement has decreased because of his growing size, and there is nothing to worry about.

What Measures Are Taken for Decreased or Weak Foetal Movement?

If there are reduced or weak foetal movements, your course of treatment will depend on the stage of pregnancy you are in. Read on to know more.

Less Than 24 Weeks Pregnant

  • If by 24 weeks of pregnancy, you do not feel any foetal movement, you should report it to your gynaecologist.
  • Your baby’s heart rate would be monitored.
  • You would need to undergo an ultrasound scan.

Between 24 and 28 weeks

  • Your blood pressure or BP would be monitored.
  • Your baby’s heartbeat would be checked.
  • You would be required to undergo a urine test, to establish any traces of protein.
  • Your baby’s size would be measured through an ultrasound.

Over 28 weeks

  • A thorough antenatal checkup would be done.
  • The baby’s heartbeat will be monitored with a cardiotocography (CTG).
  • The baby’s size will be measured.
  • Your doctor may recommend for an ultrasound scan in case you are a high-risk pregnancy, or the size of your baby is smaller than usual.

Once you are back home after the checkup, keep tracking the baby’s movement if the gynaecologist has advised you to. Also, reach out to the doctor if you experience anything that worries you. This is a complicated matter, and thus you may be required to report to your doctor promptly. In most cases, decreased foetal movement may indicate that the baby is asleep, or it is preparing for childbirth in the last stage of the pregnancy. Therefore, keep your cool, track the movements, and patiently wait for your little one to come into this world.


Also Read: Fetal Movement – Feeling Your Baby Kick

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