Preventing Stillbirth

S/he's In Motion

As a baby grows and develops, s/he begins to make her/his presence known by way of movement. At first they are hardly noticeable, but as time goes on, the movements become stronger and more intense. There is a special magic in the connection made between a mother and her baby during this time. The baby will establish a pattern of movement and a mother will come to recognize the different time frames s/he is experiencing. She will know when s/he is awake or asleep, when sound is creating agitation and even if something she ate bothers her/him.

Is Everything Okay?

Identifying and monitoring fetal movement is recommended as a pregnancy progresses to the third trimester. By this time, movement is well established and monitoring the movement helps to determine if all is well with baby. By learning how to monitor fetal movement, the health and safety of the baby is safeguarded and the potential for stillbirth is significantly reduced.

Stillbirths Reduced Through Education

Recently a study published in Norway by Tveit et al titled "Reduction of late stillbirth with the introduction of fetal movement information and guidelines - a clinical quality improvement" showed that when women learned how to monitor fetal movement, the rate of stillbirths decreased. By checking for decreased fetal movement (DFM), women were able to get the help they needed for their unborn babies before tragedy took over.

The Study

According to the research team in Norway who conducted the study, women who experience a decrease in fetal movement are more likely to have a stillbirth or encounter other types of dangerous birth outcomes. Women who were part of the study, over 3000 participants, were given information to teach them about fetal monitoring and were invited to practice fetal movement monitoring for the remainder of their pregnancies. Additionally, healthcare professionals at 14 hospitals in Norway were advised on the handling of cases of DFM. The findings were encouraging as the rate of stillbirths decreased. The use of ultrasound as a means of detection and diagnosis increased during the study and follow-up visits decreased as a result of the use of monitoring and detection.

A Simple Process Can Save A Pregnancy

Women who are considered to have high-risk pregnancies may be recommended to begin fetal movement monitoring at 24-26 weeks into their pregnancies. Low-risk pregnancies usually begin at 28 weeks. Healthy babies have ten movements within a two hour period, although some babies are very active and move that much in 30 minutes. Monitoring should be done every day at around the same time of day. By writing down the time of the first movement and time of the tenth movement, a woman can see if it is within healthy parameters. If the movement is slow, she can try drinking a glass of cold water or go for a brisk walk to wake the baby. If movement is still slow on a second try, a healthcare provider should be contacted to ensure baby is safe.

Learning to monitor the baby's kicks can alert a mother to a potential problem early enough to be proactive.

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