Is Fetal Movement an Indicator of Anything?

Updated on March 23, 2013
L.B. asks from New Rochelle, NY
14 answers

My first baby moved a LOT, so I have been very surprised at how little this baby moves. I am 37 weeks pregnant and only rarely do I feel a kick, and they are few and far between. I have mentioned it to my doctor several times, and he says as long as the baby's patterns haven't changed, it's okay. He did not say that anything about the position of the placenta might be causing me to feel less, although I did not specifically ask that. Yesterday, after not feeling anything for nearly 24 hours, I went in for the non-stress test, and I think there were three or four movements in 30 minutes. Heartbeat was fine.

So my question is, does this mean anything? Is this an indicator of a mellower personality? My first born is highly energetic and was a bad sleeper, so maybe this one will sleep? I'll be honest, what I'm sort of worried about is that this minimal movement might mean something is wrong with the baby. For the record, I have gotten all the recommended prenatal tests for my age.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

My first had very little movement - he is now a very laid back personality
My second did flips flops and almost took my breath away - she is now almost 9 and is very much an on the go type of personality!

So, maybe you'll get a nice calm one this time! :)

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answers from Chicago on

Yes, fetal movement CAN be an indication of serious problems. My first baby was very active, and he'd usually wake me up a few times at night due to his constant movement. Then one morning, at 36.5 weeks, I woke up and realized I had slept through the entire night. I got ready for work, and then sat in my driveway debating whether to go to work or to call my doctor. I went back in the house and told my husband that I didn't recall feeling any movement during the night. We called the doctor and she had us come in for monitoring.

During the 30 minutes that I was on the monitors and ultrasound at hospital my baby didn't move a single time. The doctor was even pushing pretty forcefully on my uterus with the ultrasound probe. They gave me orange juice and candy--nothing. So, the doctor decided he needed to come out. They gave me a bit of pitocin to see how the baby would tolerate labor, but his heart rate dropped immediately, before I had even felt my first contraction.

When they got him out they saw that the cord was wrapped around his neck. We had gotten him out just in time. Of course, no one told me the extent of the emergency until several weeks after birth. He was in the NICU for 13 days, but I just thought it was for prematurity and lung development.

So, with each subsequent pregnancy I have been given weekly non-stress tests starting near the 30 wk mark. Sometimes the baby is sleepy and doesn't move much, and I start to worry, but we'd rather be safe than sorry.

Good for you for paying attention to fetal movement! My OBs say that it is rare for the mother to be in tune enough with their baby's movements to realize fetal distress.

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answers from Honolulu on

Go according to what your Doc says.

My firstborn, was a kicker and moved around a LOT. Especially at night.
My 2nd child, did NOT move around a lot. He was real mellow, in my tummy.
And both pregnancies, were fine.

As the baby grows, they have less room, to move around in. So sometimes, it may seem like they are not moving.
You did have a non-stress test. And it came out fine.
Just ask, your Doctor... if you don't feel anything for 24 hours... what then???

Now, going back to my statement above and how my kids were in my tummy. So my firstborn, was very active. My 2nd was not.
BUT... as children once they were born, it was NOT an indicator of their current, personality. NOT at all.
My firstborn is mellow.
My 2nd born, is VERY active.

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answers from Phoenix on

I am sure there are a zillion reasons why you may be feeling less movement. If your doctors aren't worried, you shouldn't be worried!
With my two, there was a definite difference in movement. My first was relatively active, but he tended to "stretch" and roll around more. He is my mellow kid. My second was constantly moving and lots and lots of fast, repetitive motion. I could see crazy movement from the outside. Once I got to about 38 weeks his movements routinely pushed fetal monitors off my belly. And yes, he is still always in motion. I will look back at the two boys in their car seats and the older will be gazing calmly out the window while the younger is bopping his head, waving his arms, and kicking his feet to the music!

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answers from Norfolk on

I hardly felt my son move at all.
My husband felt him every night.
It seems I was exhausted and fell deeply asleep at night and would snuggle up to my husband.
My husband would feel a nudge and move over.
Me, being asleep would move closer and snuggle back up to him.
Finally I awoke to my husband falling out of bed.
The baby kicked Dad out of bed before he was born.
Our son just LOVES hearing that story!
All during the day my moving about would rock him to sleep.
When I was sleeping, child was partying big time and using me as a bounce house.
After he was born it took a long time to get his days and nights switched around.
Every pregnancy is different and every baby is different.
There's a wide range of what passes for normal.
It could be the baby has run out of room and only has enough space to squirm a bit.
I wouldn't worry about it.
In a few more weeks, you'll be meeting him/her in person!

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answers from Washington DC on

Please try not to stress, just keep in contact with the doctor's office. Do you have a fetal doppler at home? It's possible that at 37 weeks that the baby is positioned for delivery and sleeping a lot. With your sleep deprivation and anticipation of baby's arrival, it's easy to be worried, but it sounds like everything is just fine! Every baby is different, and many rarely ever kick or move around much. I totally understand your concern, especially when your first was so active. Keep us posted.

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answers from Topeka on

Fetal movement counts did they tell you to do those daily?Do them at a time where you can relaz after eating something & drink OJ or some sort of fruit juice,milk a glass of cold water lay on your left side and count them for an hour.But try to make it a time that baby is usually active.You had a stress test done what were their response to them?Hear beat was fine how about your sonograms are they showing normal baby growth & the place of your placenta?Before 37 weeks how was baby moving?Is this baby measuring bigger than the previous pregnancy?Yes to answer your question fetal movements are an indicator that something could be wrong and warrants a call to your OB.

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answers from San Francisco on

I had three healthy babies and none of them moved as much as they were supposed to, even my third hyper little ADHD girl. I never knew why and the doctor never could explain it.
Just keep in contact with your OB and try to relax, I'm sure everything is fine!

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answers from Dallas on

I hardly felt any movement after about 7 months, it really worried me too but all the checks were fine. DD born perfect and she is very active and social and talkative so no correlation there. Congratulations on another baby!

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answers from Houston on

Well I had an anterior placenta, like across the front of my abdomen with my first and third pregnancies, but not with my second and there was a very big difference in what I felt, I didn't know with my first, so I assumed it took me longer to feel and identify movement bc it was a first pregnancy. Although I didn't feel a ton of movement, my first is a pistol!! Now my second the placenta wasn't up front, and he was moving like gangbusters all the time, but he is my super mellow, self entertaining child! My third I was 35 when pregnant so I had more ultrasounds and the doc told me about the position of the placenta, and I felt less movement and he just mentioned off the cuff that my first was an anterior placenta as well. So I said all that to say that position of the placenta can make a big difference! You said the heartbeat is strong, so that sounds like all is well!

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answers from Las Vegas on

Are you keeping hydrated? My daughter quit moving after being a very active baby. I went to the ER and drank that pitcher of ice water and checked out. She started kicking like crazy.

I had no indication of a leak, but was always low on fluid. Somehow, the 8 - 10 bottles of water a day weren't enough.

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answers from Lancaster on

My first daughter hardly moved at all. I rarely felt her move more than 3 to 5 times a day. She is perfectly healthy. She is introverted and likes to observe before getting actively involved in anything. She has always been a great sleeper and a people pleaser. Second daughter moved a lot more in utero and is more of a firecracker! I am pregnant with #3 and I feel like I have a human earthquake in there!


answers from Hartford on

I felt my eldest daughter move with the flutters at 12 weeks. She seriously never stopped moving, and at 12 years old hasn't stopped since. She was diagnosed with ADHD a little over a year ago. ;-) She was also born the earliest, like she just couldn't wait to get out of me.

My middle daughter would shy away from pressing on my belly, sound, even bright lights shined at my belly. She spent a lot of time hanging out near my spine. She moved far less than my first daughter. Once born, she slept more and had an easier personality but also clearly had Sensory Processing Disorder and related issues including Autism.

My youngest daughter, well, I hardly felt her at all. Early on I realized that I couldn't feel her even when I could SEE her bumping around and my hands could feel her. I had a posterior placenta and required frequent non-stress tests and ultra-sounds to monitor her. She's my easiest child, but she's also my neuro-typical child. I can't really say how much she moved because I couldn't feel it.



answers from Miami on

Every baby is different. You did say you are 37 weeks. The baby is running out of space by this time. Your doctor is the one monitoring your pregnancy. If he was concerned, he would have said so.

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