There are various reasons a baby may move less, while some may not be cause for alarm all episodes of reduced fetal movement should be reported to your midwife or healthcare provider for further assessment. It is not possible to tell which of the following is causing your baby to move less without the help of a CTG or scan. If you have noticed a decrease in your baby’s movements do not use a home doppler for reassurance as these will not tell you what is causing your baby’s reduction in movement. The best course of action with any episodes of reduced fetal movement is to contact your midwife.
Babies experience cycles of sleep while they are in the womb, these will mostly last between 20 and 40 minutes, however they should not last for more than 90 minutes. Your baby will not usually move during their sleep periods. Many mums notice the busier they are the quieter the baby is, however if you are concerned about your baby’s movements you should contact your midwife.
Maternal Stress or Nutritional Problems
Mothers emotional and physical state can influence the amount a baby will move. The hormones released during periods of stress for the mother can cause the baby to temporarily move less. Dehydration and fasting can also cause the baby to move less, it is important to eat and drink well to ensure the health of the baby. If you are concerned you havent felt baby move for a bit, sit down and have a glass of water. If you still do not notice the baby moving as normal contact your midwife or antenatal ward.
Premature Rupture of Membranes
Decreased fetal movement is sometimes caused by a leak or rupture in the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby. Membrane rupture or waters breaking is a normal part of a full-term delivery, but when the fluids leak before a woman’s due date it is often a sign of trouble. The amniotic fluid is what keeps the developing baby stable, warm, and protected. Leaks can lead to stress and problems with nutrition and oxygen, and also make infection more likely. All of these can lead to slowed or stopped movement. If you notice a spell of reduced fetal movement, either with or without leaking of fluid contact your midwife.
Another possibility is placental abruption, a potentially serious condition in which the placenta, the organ that feeds and nourishes the baby, separates from the uterine wall. In some cases the abruption is relatively minor and will heal on its own, but in more severe cases the separated organ can actually restrict the flow of oxygen and blood to the baby, which can lead to the baby passing away if not promptly treated. Surgery can sometimes repair the damage or, if the pregnancy is far enough along, labor can be induced or the baby can be delivered by cesarean section.
Healthcare experts aren’t always able to pinpoint exactly what causes the placenta to separate, but poor fetal development, severe infection, or other abnormalities can trigger the condition. Accident and injury can also bring it on. Women who are at risk are usually monitored closely and advised to avoid strenuous activity and high-stress situations
When the umbilical cord fails to deliver enough oxygenated blood to the baby, medical experts sometimes diagnose fetal hypoxia, a potentially fatal condition that can have long-term effects on the brain and overall development. This happens with the cord gets kinked or twisted, but can also result if the cord is poorly formed. Babies who experience a sudden dip in oxygen usually slow or stop their movements to conserve energy.
Reporting a change in fetal movements when it is first noticed can allow these conditions to be identified. It is important not to wait until movements have ceased before seeking medical attention as, left untreated, some of these causes may lead to the baby being stillborn. The best time to seek help is when the movements have changed so an appropriate diagnosis can be made and action can be taken
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