A normal part of being pregnant is feeling your baby kick. Kicking helps the fetus “map” their body and explore their surroundings and eventually helps them develop.
As the brain develops, the fetus kicks and responds to their own brain activity, changes in maternal movement, temperature, sound as well as other stimuli.
Why is fetal kicking important?
Fetal kicking serves several purposes which include giving muscles and limbs exercises, showing response to stimuli and helping the brain make connections for spatial sense. Fetal kicks in the third trimester may help the baby develop brain areas linked to their sensory input and help the baby form a sense of their own body.
Mothers should be aware of what is normal for their baby including type and frequency of movement and the typical time of day. Most women first feel their baby moving when they are around 18 – 20 weeks pregnant. However, if this is your first pregnancy you will only start to feel the movement when you are more than 20 weeks pregnant. If you were pregnant before, you may feel the movements as early as 16 weeks. The number and pattern of movement will change as your baby grows. Usually mornings and afternoons are peak times for baby movements. In a day, your baby will have sleep periods lasting about 20 to 40 minutes. The baby does not move during those sleep periods.
What is a fetal kick count?
A fetal kick count is a practice that you can do at home. It helps you keep track on the number of fetal kicks in a day. If you feel like your baby is moving less often than what you think, your doctor will advise you to keep a diary of fetal kick counts.
How to count kicks?
It is very simple! Note down every time you feel a kick. Start monitoring from 9am to 9pm. You should feel at least 10 kicks within this 12-hour period.
- Choose a time when your baby is usually active.
- Assume the position. Sit comfortably or lie on your side.
- Start counting the first movement of your baby, by writing down the time.
- Count each movement until your baby has move 10 times.
- Repeat daily!
What can cause my baby to move less?
There are few causes that cause a reduction in fetal movements. If you are using certain drugs like strong painkillers or sedatives, it can reach your baby through the placenta and makes your baby move less. Alcohol and smoking can affect your baby’s movement as well. Sometimes, your baby may move less if he or she is feeling unwell.
What should I do if my baby’s movements are reduced?
If your baby is moving less, you should contact your doctor immediately. The doctor will run tests to check your baby’s movement and heartbeat. Do not wait till the next day.