Find out what it means if your baby's movements subside towards the end of your pregnancy, and what you can do about it.
When you first start to feel your baby move at 16-20 weeks into your pregnancy, you'll probably feel only small fluttering movements. Then, as the months go by, those 'flutters' will turn into very noticeable jabs and kicks! However, towards the final stages of your pregnancy it can seem that your baby is moving less or has stopped moving altogether, which can understandably cause concern.
Why is baby moving less?
If you do experience less movement from your baby towards the last two months of your pregnancy, this is likely to be for the simple reason that baby has less room to move around in now. As your baby has grown and adapted to the space in your womb there will be less space for him or her to kick out or wriggle around in.
Towards the end of your pregnancy your baby should still be moving, but these movements may be less frequent and more pronounced, such as a kick in the ribs or a sharp elbow. While baby's initial movements tend to be frequent and easily felt, towards the end these rapid movements tend to become slower and limited to a slight kick or elbow movement every now and then. This is usually just because your baby is running out of room to move around in.
Your baby may also be moving less due to the process of 'lightening' - this is when your baby moves down towards the pelvis ready to be born. In this position he or she is likely to move less as they are now entering the birth canal. You may also find your abdomen looks smaller and there is less pressure on your ribs (but more pressure on your bladder!)
What if I can't feel baby move at all?
First, don't panic - it's likely that your baby is still moving but these movements are just more pronounced and less often. Also, if you're busy you usually won't notice baby's movements as much. To feel your baby move, try eating something small and sitting down quietly and calmly. Listen to your body and cut out all other distractions. Having something to eat will give your baby a little boost of energy so you should feel a movement, if only a slight one.
You could also try lying down in a quiet room and relaxing, and perhaps playing some music to your bump to see if you can detect a response. Remember that there is no set number of kicks your baby should be making - you'll be used to your own baby's usual pattern of movements and so will be able to judge his or her movements now accordingly.
What if I'm still worried?
If you can't feel your baby move at all and are concerned in any way, you should call your midwife for reassurance if for nothing else. He or she can easily put your mind at ease right away by checking you out and assuring you that baby is well - and that you have nothing to worry about, leaving you to enjoy the final stages of your pregnancy.
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