“There are no set number of movements a woman should feel, what is important is that she knows what feels normal for her and her baby,” said Jane Brewin, CEO of Tommy’s.
“It is not true that babies move less often towards the end of pregnancy, a woman should feel their baby move right up to the time of labour and during labour too.
“We are urging women to never hesitate to contact their midwife or maternity unit for advice, no matter how many times this happens.”
Tommy’s has a new “baby movements” hub on its website, which provides information, videos and advice for parents.
In a small-scale survey of 1,318 pregnant women, Tommy’s and Bounty’s Word of Mum panel found that only 15% of women knew how to monitor foetal movement during pregnancy.
Although 95% of pregnant women were aware their baby’s movements are important, 85% were unaware of how much movement they should be expecting.
Only half of women said they would call a midwife promptly on noticing reduced movement and 73% would delay asking for help while they tried to do something to make the baby move.
Tommy’s said a baby moving during pregnancy can be a “flutter, kick, swish or roll” - these are all signs that baby is well. When a baby is unwell, they may conserve energy by slowing down their movements.
Tommy’s, supported by NHS England and Kicks Count, wants to dispel the following myths about baby’s movements:
- A baby’s movements slow down in the third trimester due to lack of space, (although a baby’s movements may change in type, their frequency should not change).
- A certain amount of kicks is fine, (there is no standard amount, it depends on your individual baby).
- I can get help tomorrow, (it is vital to seek help straight away).
- I don’t want to bother the hospital, (hospitals would rather you let them know as soon as you have a concern regarding your baby’s movements).
- I can’t be checked at the weekend or outside 9-5 (you can visit out-of-hours services if you’re worried about your baby’s movements).
- I can use a home Doppler (handheld ultrasound baby heartbeat monitor) for reassurance, (these can be difficult to read accurately, so it is always best to get a doctor’s opinion).
Dr Matthew Jolly, national clinical director for maternity and women’s health at NHS England, said: “It is crucial that women and their partners feel informed and empowered when monitoring their baby’s movement, acting immediately to seek advice if they are concerned.
“Raising awareness of the importance of foetal movement through access to clear, consistent advice is key in helping reduce the number of stillbirths.”
Elizabeth Hutton, CEO of Kicks Count, said although more mums are becoming aware of their baby’s movements, there are still commonly-held beliefs that are wrong.
“Now is the time for change,” she said.
“We encourage mums to trust their instincts and speak to a midwife whenever they feel their baby’s movements have changed or if they are worried about any change during pregnancy.”
One woman who is determined to raise awareness of the myths surrounding baby movement is Amy Horwood, 28, from Bath.
Horwood’s son George was stillborn at 31 weeks.
“I’ve had lots of counselling and the biggest thing for me was forgiving myself for not knowing enough about foetal movement,” she said.
“I felt it was my fault George had died and the guilt was overwhelming. I thought that once you got beyond that first 12 weeks everything would be okay. I miss George all the time and life is still full of ‘What ifs?’ but I’m trying to channel that grief, that loss into something positive.
“For me, encouraging other women to be more aware of fetal movement, is George’s legacy.”
Tommy’s is encouraging pregnant women to share their experiences of baby movements using the campaign hashtags #movementsmatter and #kickmebabyonemoretime.
For more information surrounding the number of kicks you should be experiencing during your pregnancy, click here.