Importance Of Monitoring Foetal Movements
In May 2015, Olivia Bruce, 27, from Kegworth, Leicestershire, admitted herself to hospital five days before her due date because she had noticed her unborn baby's movements were slowing down
She had noticed that things were slowing down generally as her pregnancy progressed but her mind was put at rest because many people told Olivia not to worry, and that reduced foetal movement, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, was normal.
Quite by chance, she mentioned this to her grandmother, who had seen a TV program featuring the campaigning work of the charity “Count the Kicks” (now known as “Kicks Count”), set up by Sophia Wyatt in 2009 following the stillbirth of her baby daughter following reduced movement. Determined to ensure more mums did not experience this tragedy, Count the Kicks was started with the mission to educate mums on the importance of a baby’s movements and to help them work with healthcare professionals to bring home a healthy baby.
Olivia looked up the campaign website and there was some really useful information on monitoring baby’s movements – or counting the kicks. She started to take more notice of how active her baby was in the womb and it was definitely slowing down, so she went to the hospital for a check-up. Doctors put Ms Bruce on a monitoring machine for a few hours and then gave all clear. However, when she then experienced a further reduction in her baby’s movements 5 days before her due date, and empowered by the knowledge she had gleaned online from “Count the Kicks”, she returned to hospital to request a further check up; there, Ms Bruce was told that her baby had indeed slowed down. Her heart rate had dropped from 140 to 60 so she was induced immediately.
Fortunately, her daughter Chloe was a healthy baby at birth. Had she waited, however, doctors say her daughter would almost certainly have died before she was born – a fate avoided by Ms Bruce’s early admission and induced birth.
Every day in the UK, 15 families will suffer the devastating loss of a baby, either before or during birth, or shortly afterwards. Between 2003 and 2013 the rate and the number of stillbirths and neonatal births fell in the UK. The fall equals to more than 1,000 fewer deaths, despite the fact that the birth rate had increased by 12% over this period. Nevertheless the UK mortality rate for babies at 7.3 per 1,000 is high when compared with some of our European neighbours. If the UK could match mortality rates achieved in Norway and Sweden for instance, the lives of over 1,000 babies could be saved each year (MBRRACE-UK, June 2015).
While there isn’t one solution to reducing stillbirth, a decrease in foetal movement is a key warning sign that the baby is struggling in the womb and early delivery could save nearly a third of stillborn babies. The Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy found that lack of prompt management to reduced foetal movement was a contributing factor to stillbirth. The Royal College Gynaecologists and Obstetricians have been unable to define exactly how many movements are “normal”, what is clear is that whilst every baby is different, expectant mothers should always seek immediate help if they feel that foetal movements are reduced (RCOG, 2012).
Babyloss Awareness Week is held annually from October 9 to 15. Involving twenty-one pregnancy and baby loss charities in the UK, it’s a special opportunity to mark the brief lives of babies lost in pregnancy or soon after birth.