Fetal Movement Counting

Fetal Movement Counting

Hello everyone, this is Dr. Shikha Sardana, obs gyne consultant at Chaitanya Hospital, Chandigarh. Today we are here to talk about fetal movement count in pregnancy. During pregnancy, feeling the movements of your baby gives you reassurance of his or her well being. But in case if you notice your baby is moving less than usual it may sometimes be a sign that your baby is unwell. In such a case it is essential that you should contact us immediately so that your baby’s well being can be assessed and if required timely intervention can be done. Now you must be thinking how to keep a check on fetal movements, how to track fetal movements.

Before we embark on this, lets first understand what are normal fetal movements. Pregnant women feel their baby’s movements as kicks, rolling movements, flutters, or like a swish. Fetal movements vary somewhat depending on the time of the day, gestational age, and certain other factors. Over the day frequency of movements increases from morning to night with peak activity late at night. During both day and night, your baby has sleep periods and during sleep, babies don’t move. These sleep periods last between 20 and 40 minutes and are really longer than 90 minutes. The number of movements tend to increase until 32 weeks of pregnancy and then they stay about the same. Apart from these factors, generally women find their babies are most active after eating a meal or after having something sweet.

Now as you understand the basics of fetal movements and their variations over time let’s take up how to count fetal movements. Start the fetal movements count from 28 weeks onwards and count until you deliver. Take a fetal movement chart or a notebook and a pen, sit in a comfortable position. Some moms prefer sitting in a well-supported position with their arms holding their belly whereas others prefer lying on their left sides. In fact, lying on your left side also allows for the best circulation which could lead to a more active baby.

So now you are in a comfortable position. Make sure you don’t do anything else like watching TV or doing any other work, just focus on fetal movements. There are two commonly used methods for counting fetal movements. The first one is perception of four fetal movements in 1 hour when you are at rest and focused on counting. You should do it three times a day preferably after each meal. When you feel a fetal movement, mark a bar. There should be at least four movements in 1 hour. After 4 movements, stop counting. If you don’t appreciate 4 movements then eat something and count again. If still the movements are lesser than 4 in 1 hour go to the hospital. Then the second way, the second way is count to 10 i.e perception of 10 fetal movements over up to 2 hours when you are at rest and focused on counting. After 10 movements stop counting. If you are unable to feel 10 movements in 2 hours eat something and try again. If still the movements are less than 10 in 2 hours reach Hospital.

Once you reach hospital for the complaints of decreased fetal movements, we will evaluate you for any high-risk factors, examination will be done and then a non-stress test or CTG will be done in labour room. In case there is some high-risk factor we might advise you, we might do an ultrasound and Doppler study. The findings of these evaluation will guide further management. So the carry home message is that you should seek immediate help if you feel that the movements are reduced as this may help identify potential problems and provide us the opportunity of timely intervention to reduce adverse outcomes.

So be aware of the fetal movements and keep a count. With the wishes of a happy, healthy, and safe pregnancy we want to thank you all for joining us.