When I was pregnant with T, I had an anterior placenta, which meant it sat at the front of my bump, ‘muffling’ all his kicks and punches. He made up for it by booting my bladder, and sticking his little feet out the side of my bump. I didn’t realise however just how muffled his movements were until I was pregnant with M. With the placenta along the back wall of my uterus, her movements were incredibly easy to feel, even from very early on. By the mid second trimester, she was well in to a rhythm, and I could predict when she would be awake or asleep (usually at the opposite times to me!)
I hit 34 weeks, and after a busy Saturday, I realised I hadn’t really felt M move very much. I lay down on my side, and had a drink of cold water to see if that would wake her up a little bit. After laying for a while, and not really feeling very much at all, I was a bit concerned. Knowing how important fetal movements are as an indicator of your babies wellbeing, I didn’t want to hang around waiting to see if anything changed. So we called our local maternity hospital and told them I was concerned about reduced fetal movements. Without question, they invited me straight in to have a check over to see what was going on.
On arrival, I was quickly given an antenatal check, then popped on to a ctg monitor to see what M was up too. Of course, as soon as the monitor was attached, she started having a disco party in there! They kept me on the monitor to make sure she was behaving herself, and after 2 hours, they were happy with her trace. However, the midwife was concerned my bump was measuring a bit small. I had to wait for the doctor to see me, who asked me to come back for further monitoring the next day, and suggested I was booked in for a growth scan the following week.
We popped back up to the hospital the following morning, and had another hour on the ctg monitor to check in on Miss M. She was absolutely fine, and knew the drill by then so was kicking, punching and trying to run away from the monitor so her heartbeat trace was all over the place! My scan that week gave us final reassurance that all was well in there, and she was growing as she should. 4 weeks later she was here, none the wiser for all the drama she caused!
At the time, I apologised to the midwives for wasting their time by coming in when M decided she was going to start dancing around as soon as I got there. They told me there was absolutely no need to do so – they would much rather see every mum concerned about their babies movements and double check everything was ok, than have mums sitting at home worrying, or not seeking help because they didn’t want to ’cause a fuss’.
Tommy’s has launched a new campaign, #MovementsMatter – aimed at pregnant women to educate and inform them about monitoring their babies fetal movements,. The stillbirth rate in the UK is high, with 1 baby in every 220 being stillborn. 59% of mothers who tragically lose their babies to stillbirth report a reduction or loss of fetal movements. However, for a number of reasons, women wait to report reduced fetal movements, because there is still a lack of awareness of their importance, and lots of false information being given to mothers about how to monitor them. The #MovementsMatter campaign aims to quash these dangerous myths and barriers to seeking help from health professionals, and empower every pregnant woman to reach out when they notice a change in their babies movement patterns that is concerning them.
Watch the #MovementsMatter video to find out what you really need to know about fetal movements in pregnancy – even if you aren’t expecting yourself. Being able to give a friend, who perhaps mentions baby has had a ‘quiet day’, the correct information and support they need to get checked out could make a huge difference. It might even save the life of their baby – we ALL need to know this. And if you are pregnant and worried about your baby, please don’t worry about ‘wasting’ anyone’s time by phoning your midwife or hospital – seeking help promptly is key. Share this post or video on your social media to spread the word on this vital campaign if you can!