Your Baby’s Movements During Pregnancy

The importance of your unborn baby’s well-being whilst your pregnant is paramount for any mum-to-be. So keeping a close eye on daily movements is essential to ensure you’re baby is well.

But what if one day your baby hadn’t moved as much as usual. What if you were 38 weeks pregnant and a friend reassured you that it was probably because the baby didn’t have much room, or that it was a sign you could be going into labour.

What would you do?
Count The Kicks is a UK based charity that aims to educate mums on the importance of a baby’s movements and to help them work with healthcare professionals to bring home a healthy baby.

Chief Executive Elizabeth Hutton explains why the charity was first set up and what should mums and midwives know about fetal movements during pregnancy.

Count the Kicks is trying to empower mums to be with knowledge and confidence during pregnancy by raising awareness of baby’s movements and their importance in a baby’s wellbeing. We were founded in 2009 by Sophia Mason following the tragic stillbirth of her daughter Chloe. Chloe’s movements had begun to slow down leading up to her due date but Sophia was led to believe this was normal, but what she’d read on the internet and in magazines. When she called her midwife, it was too late. Chloe was stillborn 3 days before her due date. Determined to ensure other mums did not experience the same heartache, Sophia set up Count the Kicks to raise awareness of how important fetal movements really are.

What is the aim of the charity and how can Mums-to-be access support and information?

We want mums to feel confident enough to call their midwife if they notice any change in their baby’s regular pattern of movement. We produce leaflets, stickers and posters that we send to midwives so many mums will be able to access the information straight from their midwife. Our leaflets are also in the mum to be Bounty Packs that mums can collect at 20 weeks.

Alternatively, all our information is available online at countthekicks.org.uk or on our Facebook page facebook.com/ukcountthekicks

There still seems to be a lot of conflicting advice about what’s normal for baby’s movements eg ’10 kicks a day’ ‘baby slowing down before labour’ ‘movements less when there’s not much room’. How can we as midwives make sure women are receiving the correct advice about fetal movements?

The current guidelines say that a woman should report any change in her baby’s regular pattern of movement. There is no set number a woman needs to get to so counting to 10 is unhelpful. Movements vary from 4 – 100 every hour and fetal movements are completely dependent on what a mum perceives to be her baby’s movements. One woman may feel every little roll and movement, while another may only feel the big kicks, how can we be telling both these women they need to feel the same number?

They need to know what they see as their baby’s regular pattern and then they can report if they notice any change in that. It is important for mums to also be aware that babies do not slow down as they reach the end of pregnancy.

As a midwife, I always reassure women that they never waste my time by calling if they haven’t felt their baby move.

What advice do you give women if they have any concerns?

Much the same! We always advise women to report any change in movement to their midwife. We want them to be reassured that midwives would much rather see them a hundred times and have to keep telling them the baby is fine than to see them once and have to deliver devastating news. So if you are ever worried about your baby you should contact your midwife. They are there to help you.

If you had a pot of gold – how and where would you use the money to help families affected by losing a baby?

Our aim is to prevent stillbirth, we would love for no one to need bereavement support. If I had a pot of god I would love to continue to provide our leaflets but also be able to provide our wristbands free to all mums to be. This would cost approximately £1 million pounds a year so we would need a big pot! But we hope to one day make that a reality.

Understanding the hormone of love to cope with pain during your labour

The hormone that drives the rhythm of labour and birth is known as the “Love Hormone” and the great news is that it is released when we hug one another.
The “Love Hormone” is produced in the posterior pituitary gland and is a peptide of 9 amino acids with a hexagonally shaped molecule the same as seen in a honeycomb which is one of nature’s strongest shapes for bonding.

Thanks to masses of recent research into its effects, medical science now accepts that the ‘love’ hormone is needed to initiate and maintain labour. Nicknamed the ‘shy’ hormone, it requires a dark, quiet, familiar and non-threatening environment in order to flow (the antithesis of noisy, brightly lit maternity wards with unknown faces coming and going). Its enemy is adrenalin – hence the increasing popularity of birthing mothers using hypnotherapy to stay calm and offset the negative effects of ‘fear, fight and flight.’
The Labor Progress Handbook written by Penny Simkin and Ruth Ancheta describes many ways of encouraging the “Love Hormone” to flow such as
“Comforting touch, such as stroking, backrubs and hand-holding.”

Dr Michel Odent is a retired French Obstetrician, famously good at being one step ahead of the game. He is a proper geeky scientist who loves a good statistic; he is the founder of The Primal Health Research Centre in London and in the 1970s was the first obstetrician to write about water-births in medical literature. He introduced the concept of ‘home-like’ birth centres in hospitals and birthing pools – which are available at most UK hospitals.
Odent claims that women should birth with a midwife whom they know and who has a calming influence, a midwife who doesn’t transmit her own adrenalin but instead instils a feeling of relaxation and safety in the woman.

Beating the baby blues

You are probably aware that having a baby is going to change your life, and may I add, for the better! However, along with this change comes a multitude of emotions and it is good to have a support network around you to help you get through those early weeks as a new mother.

The Chagga women of Uganda are welcomed back into the village with their new child amid great celebrations and accompanied by songs, a ceremony that is aimed at honouring them as new mothers. As a culture here in Britain, we have woefully ignored the needs of new mothers and often leave them feeling inadequate and isolated. This does not have to be, so long as we recognise the importance of a support network helping women, by providing much needed practical and emotional assistance.

This is why the work of a Midwife is dedicated to giving intense support for Motherhood. Midwives work with a woman for many months before the birth. During antenatal visits, your midwife will see your confidence build as you build trust in your body’s ability to give birth to your baby. However, there is often an inability for the woman to contemplate life with her baby in those early days we call the “postnatal period” as they cannot look beyond the birth itself.
It may be helpful to consider a few simple measures to help make the transition into Motherhood smoother.

1. Being loved and cherished at this time is key and if you find yourself isolated from family and friends then why not seek postnatal support with your midwife or health visitor?
2. New Mothers are physically and emotionally vulnerable and will benefit from having a “Baby Moon”. This means staying with your baby snuggled together not getting dressed and rushing around instead of concentrating on spending time feeding and being fed yourself. Why not request extra pampering in the form of having a massage!
3. Rest, rest and more rest to regain strength is a vital part of readjusting to being a new mother and allows you the strength to care for your baby.
4. New mums need help with household chores and child care for older children, again, if this is difficult to summon up from your friends and family then it can be provided by a maternity support worker.
5. Remember that you are amazing and your baby loves you! Do not be over whelmed by all the advice that you are given, often conflicting! Try tuning into your own intuition and what feels right for you; no one is an expert at being your baby’s mother other than you!