Why Does Fetal Movement Decrease Before Labor?

Why Does Fetal Movement Decrease Before Labor?


Regular fetal movements indicate that the fetus is healthy. The movements can be in the form of kicks or turns which will usually be felt when the pregnancy enters 16 to 28 weeks of age. However, generally the baby's movement will decrease before labor. What is the cause and is this condition dangerous?

Understanding fetal movements in the womb

A healthy fetus, usually characterized by active movements in the stomach. At first, it may be difficult for you to distinguish whether it is your fetal or bowel movements.

However, as time goes by until delivery, the various fetal movements that you feel become more distinctive and you can distinguish them.

So you better recognize fetal movements, understand the following guidelines:

  • At 12 weeks of pregnancy, the baby begins to move. However, you don't feel anything because the baby is still very small.
  • At 16 weeks of pregnancy, the mother begins to feel small movements in the stomach.
  • At 20 weeks of pregnancy, the mother can begin to feel more active and faster movements.
  • At 28 weeks of pregnancy, the baby has made movements such as kicking and hitting.

You need to be suspicious if the baby is less active in moving in the womb at that age. Could be, this indicates a problem in the baby in the womb.

Even so, reduced movement in the fetus does not always indicate a problem in the baby in the womb. At a certain time, the baby will indeed reduce movement in the stomach, precisely before delivery. What is the cause?

The reason why fetal movement decreases before delivery

A study in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, explains the cause. The baby's movement will decrease when the pregnancy is past 30 weeks, as well as before labor.

Compared to rotating movements, pregnant women will more often feel squirming movements that cause tingling. It may also be a sudden kick that causes discomfort. This condition occurs because the baby's body is more perfect and the space is getting narrower.

In the same study, researchers who observed infant movements a week before delivery, concluded that the infant's movements did not actually decrease but slowed.

As many as 40 pregnant women report that the baby's movements are indeed slower, but become stronger.

Apparently, there are a number of factors that cause a mother to have difficulty sensing fetal movements before delivery. This disorder makes them assume that fetal movement will decrease, even though it is not the case.

In addition, there are also several other things that cause pregnant women to have difficulty feeling the baby's movements before delivery, including:

  • The amniotic fluid volume is not appropriate
  • The presence of anterior placenta (placenta attached to the front side of the uterus)
  • The mother has a smoking habit and is overweight
  • Nuliparitas, namely women who have never given birth before

To find out the health of the fetus through its movements, keep a journal. Note how often the baby makes movements and what movements you feel.

Next, consult the obstetrician. If you feel an abnormal change, do not delay to check it

Also Read:

  • 9 Tips for Maintaining the Health of Pregnant Women and Fetus in the Womb
  • Do not be confused, this is how to distinguish between fetal age and gestational age
  • In the womb, can the fetus be cold or too hot?

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Reviewed: July 22, 2019 | Last Edited: July 22, 2019


Robin Elise Weiss, PhD. Very Well Family. Using Movement to Determine Baby's Health Before Birth. Accessed on July 5th, 2019.

Linde A, Georgsson S, Pettersson K, Holmström S, Norberg E, Rådestad I. Fetal movement in late pregnancy - a content analysis of women's experiences of how their unborn babies moved less or differently. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth . 2016; 16 (1): 127. Published 2016 Jun 1. doi: 10.1186 / s12884-016-0922-z.

WebMD. Feeling Your Baby Kick. Accessed on July 5th, 2019.

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