For most expectant women, fetal movements are generally felt between 18 – 20 weeks, however some women feel these movements as early as 16 weeks or as late as 22 to 23 weeks of pregnancy. There are many reasons why the initial first movements are not felt as expected. This is common during first pregnancies, when a placenta sits on the anterior surface of the uterus and being overweight.
Initially fetal movements will not occur consistently every day. The movements can be subtle and as the baby turns to face backwards, less movements will be felt. It is also important to remember that babies will sleep for intervals of up to 40 to 50 minutes at a time before becoming active again. Some women feel what they term ‘unusual’ movements. These are most likely due to repetitive rhythmic hiccupping by the baby and a sudden shaking caused by the baby’s own startle response. These movements are very normal. Due to a wide variation of movement patterns, your baby’s movements are not a very sensitive measure for whether your baby may be experiencing problems prior to 20 weeks’ gestation. If at any time you are concerned that your baby is not moving as much as it should, you should lie down and drink some juice or icy cold water. This will usually wake the baby up and movements should be felt almost immediately.
From about 32 weeks’ gestation, fetal movements become more consistent. We are not too concerned about the number of movements but more about the normal daily pattern for your baby. If you suddenly notice decreased fetal movements and you have tried resting and drinking juice or cold water, you may also gently palpate your abdomen which will should wake the baby up. We suggest that you lie down as movements are felt less whilst standing.
As the pregnancy advances and if you are concerned that your baby is not moving or the movements have decreased, then you should contact our office and speak to one of our midwives or after hours or on weekends, contact the labour ward at the Epworth Freemasons. It is important not to wait until the end of the day or until the next morning for further assessment of your baby. The majority of the time the baby is well and we can confirm this via fetal monitoring or by ultrasound in our office. To be safe we would always prefer that you contact us via the office or via Len’s paging service. All of our midwives are trained and fully qualified to perform and access fetal wellbeing via fetal monitoring. We have CTG monitor in our office,
Dr Len Kliman is one of Melbourne’s most experienced and respected obstetricians and gynaecologists.
With over three decades of experience, Dr Kliman has delivered over 20,000 babies and still counting!
In 2017, Dr Kliman received an Order of Australia for his services to obstetrics and gynaecology.