A maternity campaign is asking expectant mothers to be aware of their baby’s pattern of movements and to seek advice if they notice a reduction in movement or have any concerns.
Reduced movement can be associated with a risk of stillbirth, with half of all women who have had a stillbirth experiencing reduction in their baby’s movements.
The Movement Matters campaign aims to highlight the importance of recognising a baby’s unique pattern of movements, whilst working with mothers to reduce risk through various support initiatives.
Most women become aware of their baby moving from around 18-20 weeks, this is often described as feeling like flutters, kicks or swishes. These movements then increase in number until around 32 weeks and stay the same until birth.
Whilst the type of movements can change as a baby increases in size or as the birth date nears, the amount of movements should remain the same.
Lorraine Philip, Inpatient Midwifery Manager, explains: “Every pregnancy is unique. If it’s your first pregnancy you might not know what to expect in terms of movement, however, you’ll soon get to know what is normal for your baby.
“If you already have children, you may find that your new baby is active at different times of the day or moves in a different way compared to previous pregnancies.
“Your midwife will discuss the importance of movement throughout your pregnancy, and you can expect a detailed discussion at your 24 week appointment. You will be asked about your baby’s movement at every antenatal visit.
“If your baby’s movement reduces it is important that you contact your maternity unit – don’t be worried about getting in touch and don’t put off calling, you will be seen at any time as necessary. Although the risk of stillbirth is small it is important that you know that a reduction in movement is linked to stillbirth.”
Partners, friends and family also play an important role. It is hoped that their awareness of the Movement Matters messages, which will be highlighted in various health locations including GP practices, will help encourage mums-to-be who are unsure about making contact with their maternity unit to seek advice.
Lorraine continued: “Mums-to-be who have experienced changes in their baby’s movement and have received reassurance from their midwife, can sometimes be more reluctant to get in touch again if they become aware of further changes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already contacted us, please get in touch if you have any concerns.”
An additional strand of the campaign focuses on support initiatives to reduce risk, with one initiative aimed at supporting expectant mums to quit smoking.
It is known that smoking can significantly increase the risk of stillbirth. All expectant mothers in Fife are offered carbon monoxide testing at every maternity appointment, which highlights potential tobacco smoke exposure. Women who smoke are offered referral to specialist maternity smoking cessation services, which can be made at any time.
Support is also available to help mums maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy and for women who may be experiencing drugs or alcohol issues.
Chloe Henderson, who is pregnant with her first child and is due to give birth at Victoria Hospital, said: “The Movement Matters campaign is really helpful in providing clear information that all new mums should be aware of. It’s also reassuring to know that I can contact the unit day or night should I need any advice.”