As exciting as it is to feel the flutters of your baby's first kicks, for many moms it also triggers the start of something else: another thing to worry about. Are they kicking enough? Are they kicking too much? What kind of kick was that? Like many things in parenting, there is a certain level of concern attached to your baby's movements in utero. But you may be wondering, "What do I do if my baby isn't moving?" Experts say there are a few tricks to figure out what's going on.
"If you notice less movement during the day, you should drink a large glass of juice or high-sugar drink equivalent and lay on your left side in a comfortable and quiet location," Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper in an email interview. "There is a good chance the baby will move with a sugar and hydration boost." Ross, who is also the author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period, also recommends waiting two hours to see if your baby’s movement becomes noticeable. "If the baby still doesn’t move within that two-hour period, you should contact your healthcare provider," she says. But Ross says it's more likely that a baby will stop moving because they are sleeping or ran out of room inside of the uterus.
"The baby grows faster than the uterus near the end of the pregnancy," Ross says. "It makes sense that a bigger baby has less space in the uterus to move as energetically as noticed earlier in the pregnancy."
Dr. Allison Hill, a board-certified OB-GYN and author of Your Pregnancy, Your Way, tells Romper it's also important for mothers to keep in mind that "babies actually move much more often than a mother will feel.
"A movement seen on an ultrasound is perceived by the mother only half of the time," Hill says, adding that during the last half of pregnancy, a healthy fetus is active 30 percent of the time and spends 70 percent of its time asleep. "Fetal movement increases throughout the day, peaks late in the evening between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., and decreases in the middle of the night as maternal blood sugar levels fall. If a baby isn’t moving, it could be due to inadequate oxygen, but, more likely, it is related to the mother’s perception of movement."
If you do have to visit your OB-GYN, then Ross says your provider may want to perform an ultrasound to make sure the amniotic fluid around the baby is normal and the baby’s muscle tone and reflexes are present. "Your doctor may also put you on a heart monitor to do the ultimate test for the baby’s well-being," she says. "Never minimize a baby’s decrease in movement since it can directly correlate to the baby’s health and wellness inside the uterus."
"The movement of the baby is important since it reflects the health and well-being of the placenta," Ross says. "The placenta is the 'heart' of the pregnancy since this is where all the nutrients and oxygen come from that goes directly to the baby. If there is less baby movement, this could mean the placenta is no longer working well and could ultimately be dangerous to the baby."
The verdict? Try something sweet or a bit of caffeine — I know, twist your arm — and see if that gets your little one moving. Chances are likely they are just chilling out or feeling too cramped to move around. On the other hand, if you notice a pattern of snooze, eat a Snickers bar, movement, and repeat, then they might have you wrapped around their tiny baby finger. It won't be the last time.
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