What to Do When The Baby Suddenly Stops Moving In The Womb

Baby moving - pregnancy

What if the frequency of kicks slows down, or even stops? Does this mean the worst-case scenario that something is wrong with the baby? Not necessarily. There are reasons to be concerned and reasons not to be.

Below Are Instances When You Should Worry and Not Worry:

Don't Worry: Few Kicks A Day

Some women will panic when we only feel our baby kicking a few times a day. It may be because junior has been kicking up a steady storm for a number of weeks and then suddenly slowed down the kicking tempo for a few days. Most moms-to-be will panic and right away assume that something is wrong. This is usually the farthest thing from the truth. Most likely, the baby is fine. There are a lot of different reasons that babies will slow down with kicking, ranging from baby feeling tired, to mom’s sleep or wake schedule changing. There is no need for mom to panic if it happens once in a while. If she notices a pattern where the baby is consistently kicking less, she should speak to her medical care practitioner.

Worry: No Kicking With Bleeding

This is a situation where immediate medical attention is needed to make sure mother and baby stay healthy and eventually come through delivery safely. A placental abruption is when the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterus prior to the baby’s birth. If this happens, the baby is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. The serious condition also causes severe bleeding which would obviously be dangerous for both mom and baby.

There is also an increased risk in the baby having growth problems, being born prematurely or stillborn, if it is not detected in time. It occurs in 1 in every 150 pregnancies after 20 weeks. If a woman has any signs such as vaginal bleeding, cramping, or frequent contractions, she needs to seek immediate medical attention. There could also be back tenderness and uterine pain which could cause the woman to go into labor prematurely.

Don't Worry: Movement Only Starts At 24 Weeks

This happens with some babies. For whatever reason, they are not big kickers in the womb until the 24-week mark. Most midwives will tell women that anywhere from 16-24 weeks is the range that most women commonly start to feel the baby kicking. For some, it is earlier, and some, a little later. It really depends on the baby and the mom’s body. There is no reason for her to be alarmed, as long as when she has her medical checkups her midwife or obstetrician are not concerned. They will obviously take measures if they are concerned and let her know what could be the problem. Of course, she should also bring up any concerns with her medical team who will be happy to answer any of her questions.

Don't Worry: An Empty Stomach

Another common time the baby will kick less or stop kicking is if mom has not had anything to eat or drink in a while. At this point, mom is hungry or thirsty, so the baby has no resources to feed off on. If mom is dehydrated, it can be dangerous for both. That is why the first thing doctors will tell a pregnant woman to do if she is concerned about her baby’s movement is to have something sweet to drink, like orange or apple juice. The sugar in it would give mom and baby a little boost.

Even before mom gets food in her stomach, this would get the baby up and moving, usually within thirty minutes or so. Usually, the food combined with mom lying still accounts for lots of baby movement. Mom can also sometimes get baby moving by gently massaging her stomach.

Worry: No Movement And Dizziness

Fetal hypoxia is when the fetus is deprived of oxygen inside the womb and could lead to many complications for mom and baby. A mom also has just cause to worry if besides experiencing decreased fetal movement, she experiences other things like dizziness and weakness. She should definitively get herself to the hospital where she will be monitored closely as will baby.

Doctors will be monitoring the baby’s oxygen in utero and mother’s. They will be sure to follow her closely for the rest of her labor. A lot of babies can suffer greatly if they are not under medical care for the rest of the pregnancy, and often times moms will have to undergo a c-section when it comes time to deliver the baby. The important thing is for both baby and mom to get adequate oxygen.

Don't Worry: Baby May Be Out Of Space

Another common thing that happens is that baby will begin to kick less often or even temporarily stop due to a shortage of, well, a room in mom’s belly at the end of pregnancy. Think about it. As a woman’s stomach grows larger to accommodate her growing baby, the room inside goes down which means the baby has less room to move. This means they are kind of curled up inside, barely able to stretch at the end, never mind move and kick up a storm.

In this case, little movement or being quiet makes perfect sense. Women need not worry too much at this stage unless there has been A LONG absence since the last kick. As with anything else, she needs to trust her instinct and intuition and speak to her doctor.

Worry: No Movement With A Feeling Of Unease

This is when the membranes rupture before 37 weeks in a pregnancy. This can definitively cause complications, as it can mean that the baby will be born prematurely with all the associated risks. This usually occurs due to issues with the amniotic fluid (possibly too much), an infection, or due to stretching or trauma as from a car accident. This may be precipitated by slowing down of baby’s movements. Regardless of when the membranes rupture, but particularly before the 37-week mark, a woman needs to get herself to the hospital.

This is a case where any kind of ill-feeling happening before the rupture needs to be taken seriously and she needs to get medical attention. No one knows what causes this, but when the membranes rupture and there is a decrease in fetal movement, her medical team will take this very seriously.

Don't Worry: Baby's 20 Minute Sleep Cycle

There is another common reason for babies to kick less: a 20-minute sleep cycle where babies are less active. Some babies follow this cycle, which may not be the case for every baby that a woman carries. This is their normal “down-time” so they will naturally be quiet, moving less or not at all for a brief time. A lot of moms-to-be would naturally be concerned if their previous experience either personally or through friends has been the standard kicking schedules, but this is quite normal too. Moms can also try kick counts, measuring how many kicks happen in a 2 hour period at night. If less than 11 kicks are recorded, she can get in touch with her medical team.

Don't Worry: If Mom Is Overly Stressed

Something that is discounted for baby movement, but could easily affect the little one, is mom’s prenatal stress level. We hear all kinds of stories about how mom’s stress could cause more serious complications, so much so that many women get nervous when they experience stress during pregnancy.

While it is important for mom to reduce her stress for her health and her baby, some stress is normal and in most cases, the baby ends up being just fine. But something most women do not think about when it comes to stress is that it does affect how their baby moves inside them. Her baby is in sync with her moods and would slow down as she slows down due to stress or aggravation.

Worry: No Movement And Nutritional Problems

If mom is continuously stressed, has had nutritional problems throughout pregnancy, and is experiencing decreasing movements from baby, her medical team needs to be aware of it ASAP. Most likely she will be considered a high-risk pregnancy and will be monitored continuously throughout her pregnancy, both for hers and her baby’s health and safety.

It's important that she relay any new information to her medical team. The most important thing is the safety of hers and her baby’s life. Again, less kicking could be due to different reasons, but if mom’s health is in jeopardy, so is baby’s and vice versa. This is why it is important to report everything to her team. In this way, she and baby will get the best care possible and have as good an outcome as possible.

Don't Worry: If Doctor Says All Is Well

It is a pretty good bet that if a woman has been recently examined by her obstetrician or midwife and they did not see any red flags about her pregnancy, her baby is fine. Don’t forget they will use a spell monitor to watch for the heartbeat and have other equipment on hand. They will be regularly monitoring her baby’s mental and physical progress, so if anything seems off, they will let the woman know.

They will also be examining her and letting her know if there are things she is doing that could be potentially risky to her baby or herself. Of course, the woman must trust that her medical team is looking out for her and her baby’s best interests, as is usually the case. If she has any doubts, she needs to look into getting another medical care practitioner or a second opinion.

Don't Worry: Some Babies Just Sleep A Lot

Another reason for some babies kicking less often than other babies is due to the fact that some babies sleep more than others. That’s right ladies, some of them sleep a lot even in utero. But others, some of us veteran Moms can attest to, do not sleep a lot in utero OR once they are out. But I digress. The point is that a baby that sleeps a lot more will obviously be kicking less in the womb. They’d be catching up on their zzz’s so they can grow healthy, big and strong, and be born in a timely manner. With time, the woman and her doctor will get to know what type of baby her little one is. She might get lucky and have a baby who loves to sleep!

Worry: No Movement And Change In Sleep Routine

As for sleep routines, a mom-to-be will know what is normal for her baby after 24 weeks. If she notices, particularly in the third trimester, any sudden change to her baby’s sleep routine or wake routine, this could signal a problem. This would be if she ruled out that baby was kicking less due to her not eating, being tired, or other common occurrences that could be easily remedied.

Seeking her medical team’s counsel if she had any doubts would be her best bet. She could also monitor her baby’s movement and note anything unusual. She should call up her obstetrician immediately if she has concerns. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If she has not detected any movement for a long period of time (over 2 hours), she should go in and see her doctor.

In the end, as with everything else, a mom must always trust the one instrument that she has full control over her mother’s intuition. She should go with that when concerned with anything regarding her baby’s development. It will never steer her wrong, and she will have the reassurance that she is doing what is healthy for her baby.

Sources: Parents, Kickcount, Babycentre UK, She Knows, Health and Parenting, Kickscount, Babycenter, Medical Dictionary, WebMD

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