What if my baby moves less?

by Claudia Ravaldi

“Feeling your baby move is a sign of good health”.

Thus begins, with this sentence, the leaflet written by the Tommy’s association and the English National Health Service, which has decided to invest in the education and awareness of the population , mothers and health workers to reduce the number of avoidable stillbirths. .

The first results of this information campaign , which began in October 2016, have already been seen: more aware women, more ready services, more information available in services and online.

The highlights of the campaign are three:

1) it is not true that children move less at term

2) each child has his own personal movement pattern , which begins to be defined around the twentieth week and then “structured” around the thirty-second week. The movement pattern is also “habitual” and quite routine (an example: in the morning after breakfast, in the evening on the sofa, at night at four, and so on). Please note : there are no two brothers (not even twins!) With the same habits, and no two mothers describe the exact same pattern, because each child is unique and special. Like any mom. This is to say that every mother , if adequately supported and informed, can learn to feel the movements of her baby, and learn to recognize them .

3) DON’T wait until the next day to ask for advice if you are worried about your baby’s movements: most of the time they are false alarms. Most of the time we are simply very tired, very worried, very overprotective, and therefore more alert. However, the British National Health Service urges mothers to follow their instincts: don’t be afraid to call , they write in black and white in the flyer available in fifteen languages:

“It is important that your doctor and midwife know that your baby’s movements have decreased or have stopped.”

In our country, not all operators are up to date on fetal movements. Some are still stuck with the old concept of “ten movements a day “or to the concept of”in the end they move less because they have no space “, and above all, compared to their English colleagues, they are not used to listening to the feelings of women, who are often reproached for being” too anxious “, and in some cases they are not even visited, despite report a reduction in movement.

Some, fortunately, does not mean all, of course. But it is no longer the time to invoke fate and good fortune when it comes to saving lives. Furthermore, ours is a country in which the education of health professionals is compulsorily regulated through the practice of CME points (continuing education in medicine): it is not clear why in the last ten years (it is since 2008 that internationally this topic is being worked on) fetal movements have not become a basic notion of all perinatal professionals and there is still old, wrong and contradictory information in clinics, clinics, private practices, newspapers and sites for mothers.

Furthermore, Italian is a beautiful language, full of words, useful for describing concepts in all their nuances: why not use the words correctly, in order to provide women with dry and clear information, and to teach them all that is known and can be taught?

Increasing the correct information, it is now known, reduces uncertainty and reduces anxiety, and increases self-confidence and in the caregivers.

This process, which we find hard to get started, is very important, not only to save lives and earn in terms of health, but to reduce the costs and waste associated with ignorance (ignorance, alas, you pay so much dearly , at the level of public health and beyond).

Warning: Paying attention to how we are and how our baby is doing does not mean being “exaggerated” or “overprotective”. Attention is an evolved cognitive process, which allows us to select and bring to a conscious level the environmental stimuli (even the movements of our baby in the belly can be defined as stimuli coming from something else-from-us) it is not a defect, it is not it is a mistake, it is not a fault, but a heritage (especially today, in the age of continuous distraction, knowing how to pay attention is really a virtue, useful for our health and that of our child).

Attention bis: paying a lot, too much attention to our health and that of our pregnant baby, is not a defect or a fault. If anything, it is a great source of stress, for us and for our child and therefore it should be approached as such, with attention and care: generally working on anxiety helps to understand how we arrived at this hypervigilance, and to understand how to manage it.

There are usually three reasons why people become hyper-alert, hyper-alert and often very anxious: suffering from anxiety before pregnancy and having parents who are anxious and overprotective, having to deal with personal or baby health problems. have had previous perinatal discharge during pregnancy.

Being anxious can therefore be a personality trait, it can be part of a mental disorder, but it is not a defect , it cannot be a reason for discrimination and it does not mean being stupid. You understood very well: being vigilant (hyper-vigilant) is the exact opposite of being stupid.

So don’t treat anxious mothers as if they were stupid. We must treat them as we treat all our clients who bring a clinical question, and together with them, clarify.

If in your opinion your baby moves differently than usual, in the third trimester of pregnancy, it is a sign of intelligence and assertiveness to contact the caregivers and discuss it with them, until the situation is clear to you and you are not reassured.

On this page of the Tommy’s website you can find the information leaflet on fetal movements in many languages. In addition to Italian, other available languages can be useful for Italian counseling centers and birth centers: in Arabic , in Romanian , in Punjabi , French , Portuguese , Polish .

A hug to all expectant mothers.

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