Why I Track Fetal Movement Religiously in my Second Pregnancy
The other night, in one of the pregnancy groups I follow, someone posted about reduced movement and being concerned. My daughter had also been less active that day, and I was reading the message boards for distraction while I settled and waited for her to get active. Having lost my first child after I reported reduced fetal movement, I am always on the watch for these things now. I think it’s something we don’t talk about enough.
I’ve seen several of these types of posts in the group, and I’m glad that the most common response is to suggest that the poster to go to Labor & Delivery (L&D) to be checked out. That’s what I ended up doing the other night. My daughter was fine, but I have no regrets. Knowing that she’s fine is always better than worrying.
Unfortunately, the slightly less common but still frequent response is to tell someone their baby is running out of room. This is a prevalent myth, but it is not true. Babies do not run out of room. The uterus grows with the baby throughout the pregnancy, and continues to grow until the baby is born. Unless he or she dies; that’s the only alternative.
Baby movements may change as they grow. I started feeling movement early in this second pregnancy, and in the beginning, they were tiny flutters, almost imperceptible. After I “popped” and my daughter changed positions, movements changed again, and then around 20 weeks became more definite. So many kicks underneath my right ribs! And by the time I started official kick counts at 24 weeks, they had changed yet again. This is all normal.
I have an anterior placenta, and I often feel dragging motions, like an elbow or knee across the top and bottom of my belly. There are also often still punches and kicks, but mostly down low, almost to my cervix. And all of this is okay. This is my daughter’s particular pattern, and that’s what’s important. Because some babies are more or less active than others, but all of them should be consistent with their own patterns of activity.
The other common piece of advice you may hear concerns time-measured kick counts. This is when you lay down and try to count 10 movements in either one or two hours (recommendations vary). If you’re doing this, that’s fine; that’s completely up to you. I just caution you, again, not to compare your baby to other babies. If your child has 10 movements in 10 minutes most days, and then one day takes far longer, that could be a worrying sign. It’s all about what’s normal for the two of you.
I don’t write this post to be condescending. I write this because I unfortunately know. I know what it’s like to think everything’s okay, and then have your entire world fall apart. I will always wish someone had said these things to me. I will always wish someone had thought I should know.
Please do kick counts, in whichever way you are comfortable. Please pay attention and know what’s normal for the two of you. Please go into L&D if you ever feel something is wrong. They are never going to be too busy. They are never going to laugh at or be annoyed with you. And more important than anything, it just might save your child’s life.
And that is worth anything to me.
This story was originally posted on adrianjameshernandez.com in March 2019. Miranda’s daughter is a healthy 19-month-old today.
Miranda Hernandez is a writer and mother to two children: Adrian James, who was stillborn at term, and his living sister, “Peanut”. Miranda writes about stillbirth, life after loss, and normalization of grief at https://adrianjameshernandez.com.
Join my mailing list for additional pieces like this. Emails sent ONLY monthly.