Trigger warning: This post discusses fears of miscarriage and baby loss, in order to raise awareness about the importance of monitoring foetal movements in pregnancy.
On Monday 17th October 2016, Tommy's began running a new campaign - to raise awareness of the significance of monitoring your baby's movements throughout your pregnancy. This is something that I personally feel is so important. I know how horrible it is to experience reduced movements; and - having been in that situation myself - I know all the emotions that go along with it.
Don't ever think you are wasting anybody's time.
When I read that 52% of women said they would be worried about looking for help when they notice reduced foetal movements, due to a fear of ‘wasting midwife’s time’, I felt so sad.
I felt sad because I know how they feel.
I felt awful, every time I called my husband and said, "the baby's not moving!" and then made that phone call to the helpline at the hospital. I knew I had to make sure everything was alright, but I was terrified people were going to see me and think, "she's back again!". I thought that the multiple trips we made into hospital were a bit like crying wolf. Especially when our little monkey then had a party once the midwife had hooked me up to the monitor.
I felt sad because I know that babies have been lost, because people felt this way.
Every time Squidgy changed out of the movement pattern she had settled in to, I made sure I did all the usual tricks: if I had been busy and moving around, I would stop, snd see if I could feel her. I would eat chocolate and sweets, and wait for a few minutes to see if she would respond to the sugar rush. I would drink an icy cold glass of water. If she didn't move, I forced myself to make that call. After losing our first child in the first trimester a few years earlier, I was determined that I would not let my embarrassment or fear of being judged overcome the need to get checked out.
I felt sad because the UK has one of the highest rates of stillbirth, and some could be prevented.
1 in 220 babies born in the UK is born sleeping; and around half of the mums of these angel babies said they had noticed reduced foetal movements prior to the baby's stillbirth. Sometimes, for no reason at all, we do not get to hold our babies in our arms. However we can do everything we can to prevent this; starting with raising awareness about the importance of monitoring foetal movements.
There is no such thing as a set pattern of movements.
Each pregnancy is different. I can tell you, from personal experience,that no two babies move in the same way.
In my first pregnancy when Squidgy moved, she kicked with sharp, blunt, kicks. Often these kicks were flat footed and straight out the top of my bump. The bigger she got, the clearer the kicks became. Sometimes we even saw a clear footprint protrude from my bump. She had a routine; but instead of being something I could set by a clock, she would move in response to stimulants. She loved listening to music; would dance around when I had a bath; was always active in the dark at night; and went crazy every time she heard her daddy's voice.
In this pregnancy with Pickle, things couldn't be more different. She prefers to roll, often with her knees together from one side to the other. You can watch as she pushes out of my bump, and slides over the top of my protruding belly, just above my belly button. I can also set her movements by the clock. I can tell you that at 23:30, she will rock and roll for twenty minutes, and then sleep again until 02:00. I know that at 07:30 when her big sister rushes in and shouts, "Good morning, Mummy!" she will wake up once more, and roll around while Squidgy chats away to her.
No one can tell you what is 'right' for you, but trust me when I say you will know.
Do not let anything stop you from making that phone call. If you think something has changed - and is not 'normal' for you and your baby, dial your midwife's or hospital's number and get checked out. I know my baby's patterns, so I will know if anything changes. Everyone is different, and everyone will experience their baby's movements differently, but that doesn't change the fact that foetal movements matter. You need to keep track of what is 'normal' in your pregnancy.
The campaign video (which you can watch below) is a fabulous way that Tommy's are spreading the message that your baby's movements really do matter. At the time of writing this post, their tweet sharing this video has been shared over 130 times in just 6 days. Make sure you pop over and re-tweet it too!
Tommy’s are the largest charity who fund research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. The aim of their #MovementsMatter campaign is to:
increase awareness of the importance of monitoring foetal movements
give women clear information about what to do and what they should expect when they seek help
empower women and give them the confidence to seek help
Please help Tommy's to spread the word. Your baby's movements matter! For more information on the campaign, you can visit the Tommy's website.