Reasons Changes in Baby Movements Matter

Tommy launched its #MovementsMatter campaign recently, for purposes I especially relate to and because BABY MOVEMENTS MATTER:

  • to challenge dangerous myths about baby movement in pregnancy
  • to increase awareness of how vital it is to monitor baby movements
  • to encourage expectant mums to trust their instincts about their baby’s movements
  • to empower pregnant women and give them the confidence to get help when they’re concerned
  • to give pregnant women clear information about what to do if their baby’s movements feel unusual
  • to let pregnant women know what to expect when they reach out for help with their baby’s movements
  • to inform pregnant women that they are not wasting people’s time when they reach out for help about their baby’s movements

Tommy's baby movements matter campaign web page

Just under 2 weeks before this campaign started, I was worried about my baby’s movement. My baby didn’t seem to be moving as much as before, and around the time of the day that I was used to. Yet I did nothing but worry for about 2 to 3 days.

Why?

 bump-touch-movementsmatter

What held me back from acting promptly?

I questioned the validity of my instincts and didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.

I didn’t want to disturb my toddler’s routine again; he has been to the hospital with me so many times over these past months. I felt bad expecting him to ‘behave’ and not run around laughing loudly, on the long corridors that called out for his exploration. After all, hospitals are serious spaces for the most part; not a toddler’s playground.

I didn’t want my husband putting everything aside again just to take me to an appointment I wasn’t sure I needed; increasing our petrol cost (silly, I know).

I didn’t want to waste the midwives’ time and the NHS’ money to massage away my worries when all was probably well.

Lastly, I didn’t want to waste my time waddling around when I didn’t need to, dealing with the discomfort of getting in and out of the car, feeling like a burden to those caring for me, especially when I could be working through another chore on my unending to-do list.

bump-love-movementsmatter

Baby movements myths that hold us back

According to Tommy’s research, 52% of women worry about getting help with reduced fetal movements because they are afraid of “wasting midwife’s time” and “being a nuisance” – I’m one of these.

Why do we worry about wasting people’s time when our babies need our help to get help?

Tommy’s research found that some of us incorrectly think that:

  1. A certain amount of kicks is fine
  2. We can use a home doppler for reassurance
  3. We can’t be checked at the weekend or outside 9am – 5pm
  4. Baby movements slow down in the 3rd trimester due to lack of space
  5. We can bring up our concern at our next midwife or doctor’s appointment

Honesty time: have you delayed getting support for any of these reasons? #5 definitely resonates with me.

bum-and-dad-movementsmatter

Why do baby movements matter? 

Perhaps, we need more understanding of the importance of our decision to get help with this.

Seeking help with unusual changes in baby movements could potentially change the life chance for some babies.

Baby movements and stillbirth

I mean, consider the fact that …

about 55% of mums who’ve had a stillbirth noticed a reduction or pause in their baby’s movements beforehand, but unfortunately didn’t report it. That’s staggering and sobering.

55%!

bump-and-scan-movementsmatter

To think that some babies might be alive today if the negative change in their movement had been checked out is heartbreaking; I can’t even imagine how horrific it must be for mums that have gone through this.

1 in every 220 babies born in the UK is stillborn. In 2015, the UK ranked 24 out of 49 high-income countries for stillbirth rates.

It’s important to note that this isn’t scaremongering … absolutely not. It’s being aware of meaningful statistics, to help us understand how much baby movements matter.

I … all pregnant women … must remember that babes in bumps communicate their well-being to us through their movements. Their movements are not for show, or just to make us feel good. Hence, unusual increases or/and decreases in their movements matter … like, really … really matters!

[via GIPHY] Your baby’s movement is unique to you and your baby

Baby movements is an indicator of baby wellness.

So, reduced baby movements could potential be the first sign that a baby is unhappy and in distress. Think about it: when we’re not well, we tend to move less, don’t we? Similarly, babies are likely to save their energy and move less when they’re not doing as well as they should be doing; in and out of the womb.

So, to the 73% of us who are likely to delay getting help and instead try hearsay to make our babies move like we’re used to … STOP and GET HELP.

It is heartbreaking to think that babies’ lives may be lost because we don’t get how important paying attention to their movements is … or are scared of wasting the time of those who actually want to help us.

Get this: a similar campaign in Norway reduced stillbirth by a third; I really hope it does the same for us in England. This is one case where it’s better for us to be over than under cautious. I mean, we’re talking about the very survival … the precious lives … of our most fragile and vulnerable group … our babies … our long expected bundles of joy.

bump-feel-movementsmatter

So, let’s heed Tommy’s #MovementsMatter campaign with NHS England and Kicks Count:

  • Be informed – find out more
  • Be observant – pay attention to your baby’s movement
  • Be prepared – save relevant contact numbers on your mobile
  • ACT – yes, get your phone and make the call for help whenever needed

DON’T HESITATE TO GET HELP, TO HELP YOUR BABY. 


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What I did When my Baby’s Movement Slowed Down

Reduced fetal movement is worrying, and I was definitely a bunch of nerves when my baby’s movement slowed down. I was just under 30 weeks when I noticed my baby wasn’t moving as usual, but the last thing I wanted to do was to go to the hospital again.

It had been a few days and I tried hard not to be anxious about it. I pushed my concerns to the back of my mind … it was easier than voicing my concern. I’ve had so many medical appointments with this pregnancy; much more than I could have imagined I’ll need.

I was filled with doubt about how sure I was that my baby’s movement felt different. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel my baby at all, but something felt different; my baby’s movement wasn’t quite like before.

You see, I’m terrible with ‘knowing’ the pattern of my baby’s movement; it was the same the first time round.

“Could it be all the other things that are getting me down? Perhaps that’s why I hadn’t noticed the movement so much … maybe my baby isn’t really moving any less”, I wondered.

My head was all over the place.

My husband noticed my subdued mood and kept asking me how I was. I mentioned my concern a few times but made light of it … not wanting to worry him or scare myself. However, I said it enough for him to suggest going to the hospital to put my mind at rest.

But I didn’t want my toddler going to the hospital yet again … I didn’t want to waste the NHS’ time and money; they’ve been so generous to me as it is.

Even then, I couldn’t shake off the fact that the midwife told me about the importance of my baby’s movements at my booking appointment; she highlighted the number to call in the green folder she gave me if I was ever concerned.

I can’t quite capture the thought battles I went through in words.

After about 2 to 3 days, I couldn’t take it anymore – my doubts about my concerns and worries about wasting everyone’s time couldn’t contain my increasing distress. I was clearly more worried than I was letting on, and definitely more concerned than I realised – not the best ingredients for a good mental health.

Kicks Count and Mama Academy‘s campaigns about the importance of baby’s movement subconsciously nagged me; I’m so glad I came across them after I had my first child. I tell you, knowledge truly is power at times like this.

So finally, I told my husband I was going to call Triage, and I asked him to get ready to take me to the hospital. And yes, my toddler had to come, but I don’t think he minded.

The midwife that we saw was kind and gently … unassuming and reassuring. I laid on the bed in a small private room, and she checked my baby’s heartbeat. She then put the monitoring device around my bump and covered my legs to keep them warm and maintain my dignity.

reduced-movement-check

I listened to the machine, heard my baby’s heart, felt my baby move, and watched my husband read to my toddler. The baby seemed to move more, or perhaps I noticed it more because I was particularly focusing on it; I’m not sure.

It was all over in about 20 to 30 mins. The nurse was satisfied all was well, and she told me to call again if I was concerned … even if it was tomorrow.

I can’t explain the delight I felt hearing my baby’s heartbeat and feeling my baby’s kicks.

Yes, nothing was wrong, thank God. I perhaps could have gone on worrying about the reduction I felt in my baby’s movement, but we were all better off for going to the hospital to check it out.

As the midwife told me, I didn’t waste her time, distract her from her duties, or hinder her from attending to other cases. In fact, she had no patient when we got there, and none waiting when we left.

I left the hospital with a reassurance that money can’t buy … and one I’m so grateful to have had. I’m the better for it … my baby, husband, and toddler are better for it … and the NHS is definitely not worse off because of it.

So, what did I do when my baby didn’t move as usual?

I worried, doubted, questioned, internalized, and made my mental health worse … then I allowed common sense to prevail, listened to my mother’s instinct, heeded vital baby movement messages, involved my family, shared my burden, called Triage, went to the hospital, underwent reassuring monitoring, improved my mental health and my family’s well-being. 


Have you ever worried about your baby’s movement?

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