No one can prepare you for what your body goes through during pregnancy but more so than that, there is no way of preparing your mind for the thrashing it can take during a time where you are “supposed to be excited and happy.”
Before I start to ramble, I just want to clarify that the NHS classes reduced fetal movement as: a significant reduction or sudden alteration in movements of the fetus which can potentially be a warning sign of fetal distress. – not hugely clear, right?
As a pregnancy progresses, the assumption is that you will become familiar with your babies pattern of movements and be able to recognise a change – I really struggle with this. Maybe I just have unreliable babies, or maybe it’s actually a struggle a lot of women have but it just isn’t spoken about.
I’m currently 27 weeks and 2 days pregnant with my baby girl, anterior placenta, high risk due to previous gestational diabetes and a little lady who loves to pop her feet up on my sciatic nerve. WAHEY! But I already love her as if she had been born many moons ago – so when my mind flicks to panic mode over whether I have felt her move in the last 10 mins, hour, afternoon, day – the world feels like a big giant blur of times, baby kicks and that face you make when you’re trying to solve a super difficult math problem.
I had a hefty weekend, my mum got married, it was my birthday and I had been on my feet a lot more than I have been lately so feeling a baby move whilst you’re on the move is difficult anyway. By Monday, her movements were slow and what my husband classed as ‘lethargic’ – I could still feel her having a little tumble so I went to bed (not to sleep, obviously – to get up multiple times to pee, stare at the ceiling for a bit and change position 14000 times.) By morning I still wasn’t convinced, I googled what to do when you’re worried about reduced movement which saw me lying on my left side downing an ice cold bottle of water – she wriggled to get away from the ice waterfall I had just subjected her to (sorry tiny babe!)
I decided that to be safe, I’d phone the number provided by my community midwife for any concerns regards movements – I knew she WAS moving but the pattern and frequency had changed and that’s what we’re looking for, right? Now, I am a huge supporter of the NHS and have had both negative and positive experiences but on this occasion, I was pretty disappointed with the response I received. I calmly relayed what had been happening and stated that I just wanted to check if her moving because of the water was sufficient to not need to be checked over and that her movements had changed over the course of the two days – I was greeted with a “and that change is…?” – to be blunt, I felt like she thought I was wasting her time and that. sucks. Regardless, she asked me to go in to be monitored at 2.30 that afternoon. She was there, I was anxious, WHY WAS I ANXIOUS ABOUT SEEING A MIDWIFE?! She made me feel like, frankly, I was a bit silly and hugely over-exaggerative but after checking me over added “but you’ve done the right thing in coming in” – WHAT?! Are you insane?! After making me feel like the size of the Haribo ring I had scoffed before going to the hospital, you are now saying that I did the right thing??!!?
I guess what I’m trying to say is, please, please, please never feel like you’re being silly. Always go and get checked if you feel like your little babe has been a little off – and you know what, if you’re even SLIGHTLY anxious about it – go and get checked. Complete accuracy over fetal movements is impossible – babies are wriggly and squirmy and get irritated by things like cold water and (in the case of my little lady) wriggles when her brother cries. Needless to say, she was fine, I was exhausted and angry and hormonal but reassured that my baby was fine and probably just a little sleepy.
I found this wee PDF helpful and will link some other sources of information for reduced fetal movement below: