Why is Counting Fetal Movements Important?

Fetal activity is a key indicator of a healthy pregnancy.

Starting around 18 to 20 weeks, your baby will begin to move more at certain times of the day. After 28 weeks, your movements will become stronger and more predictable. Your care provider may advise you to start tracking your fetal movements. This is often called "kick counting".

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Fetal activity can help predict... 

Impaired growth 

Premature birth

Neonatal depression

Emergency deliveries

Stillbirth

and more...

Did you know?

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of pregnancy-related maternal death is preventable (1)

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of stillbirths are preventable (2)

Tracking your fetal movements on a regular basis can help you learn your baby's unique movement patterns and recognize if there is a change.

A change in your normal pattern may indicate that there is an issue, and we advise you to call your healthcare provider right away if you feel concerned, as you know your baby best. 

We encourage you to get to know your baby's unique patterns and habits since there isn't one set standard for when and how often your baby will move.

If you're looking for a place to start, in Canada, 6 movements in 2 hours or less are generally considered normal.

Source: Health Link BC

Counting movements has shown

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reduction in fetal mortality (3)

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reported feeling strongly that something was wrong before experiencing a stillbirth (4)

How do I track fetal movements?

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Most expectant individuals feel that it's easiest to track your baby's movements when you sit or lie down in a comfortable position.

Then observe any movements that you feel, and note down how many, what kind, and at what time you felt a movement. Aim to track every day, ideally at the same time for 1 hour.

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Want more support? We hear you! Check out the Flutter Care App for our easy-to-use fetal movement counter.

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Types of fetal movements you might feel include

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Kicks

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Flutters

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Swishes

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Rolls

Take note! Hiccups are not considered fetal movements.

When tracking movements, look out for...

Frequency

Record how long and how often it typically takes for your baby to move within an hour, around the same time daily.

Strength

Look for the level of force or intensity in the movement. Babies typically will continue to grow in strength over time, right up until birth!

Patterns

Look for patterns - what time in the day/night is your baby most active? What kinds of stimuli (i.e. light, voices, touch, etc.) do they respond most to? What types of movements do they usually have?

To make things easy and simple, we've also created a free How-To poster on counting your fetal movements! Visit the Resources page to download them to your phone or print them out.

References:

[1] CDC Division of Reproductive HealthNational Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion “Pregnancy Related Death https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-relatedmortality.htm (February 2019)


[2] Jessica Page et al. “Potentially Preventable Stillbirth in a Diverse U.S. Cohort” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29324601/

[3] Management of decreased fetal movements. Frøen JF, Tveit JV, Saastad E, Børdahl PE, Stray-Pedersen B, Heazell AE, Flenady V, Fretts RC. Semin Perinatol. 2008;32(4):307.

[4] Warland, J., O’Brien, L.M., Heazell, A.E.P. et al. An international internet survey of the experiences of 1,714 mothers with a late stillbirth: the STARS cohort study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 15, 172 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-015-0602-4