Fetal movements before childbirth: how they are and how to recognize them

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Fetal movements before childbirth

If throughout the pregnancy the baby has had a lot of space to move, change position, kick and elbow, by the ninth month of pregnancy we may feel less agitation. Most fetuses calms down in the life of childbirth and indeed there is no greater room for movement within the baby bump. But how to monitor the fetal movements before delivery?

In this article

  • How are the fetal movements in the ninth month
  • Agitated fetus before labor
  • When the fetal head is channeled
  • How to understand what is missing from childbirth

How are the fetal movements in the ninth month

If starting from the fourth month, more or less, the baby's movements have been perceived frequently during the day and in a clear way, towards the end of pregnancy the space inside the baby bump is really small and the baby is unable to make the evolutions to which he had accustomed us. Despite this, precisely in the ninth month, near the birth, the mother will have to pay attention and be able to feel the movements of the fetus which must not be less than ten a day.

Only in this way will we be sure that the baby gets proper oxygenation and is in good health. If we do not feel any movement for too long it is good to call the gynecologist or go to the hospital.

Read also: Early fetal movements

Agitated fetus before labor

As we have said, in most cases the baby calms down in the last trimester: space is limited, he is older, but it is still necessary to make sure that he moves during the day. Often if you observe the baby bump you can clearly see how it moves, also by patting or caressing the belly it will respond to stimuli with a kick or an elbow!

Di notteWhen the mother is lying down and the space in the uterus becomes even tighter, the baby is likely to move more (making the mother-to-be's nights restless and sleepless). On the contrary, during the day, the movements of the mother lull him making him rest.

When labor is imminent, the baby may seem more agitated, but this is not always the case and in any case do not worry because there is no evidence that if the baby is agitated it can increase the risk of complications during delivery.

When the fetal head is channeled

Ahead of the birth, the baby's head will begin to funnel into the birth canal. This movement may typically occur a couple of weeks before delivery (but it is very subjective and in some women it may be channeled a few hours before the onset of active labor).

What changes? The belly "falls", the pressure under the diaphragm and abdominal level is released and this allows you to breathe better.

How to understand what is missing from childbirth

How to understand that labor is imminent and what are the signs to watch out for?

  • Weight gain stopsSome women even lose weight before labor due to breaking water and increasing urination.
  • Fatigue: At the end of the third trimester you will feel exhausted, try to rest because labor will require a lot of energy.
  • Vaginal discharge: one of the signs that labor is near is an increase in vaginal discharge. Therefore, the production of vaginal mucus and losses which serve above all to lubricate the birth canal increases.
  • Diarrhea: is probably one of the least pleasant signs. On average a day or two before labor, prostaglandins rise in order to soften the cervix to help it open. These same hormones could also be responsible for diarrhea.
  • Backache: You will probably have suffered from it on and off throughout your pregnancy, but persistent back pain, especially if localized in the lower back, is a classic sign of impending labor.

Early symptoms of labor

The first symptoms of labor are:

  • Dilation of the cervix: which begins to soften and open up to the final 10 cm.
  • Loss of the mucous plug: which manifests itself as a yellowish discharge tinged with blood red. Be careful, however, it must not be bright red nor must it appear as abundant bleeding (in this case go to the emergency room).
  • Breaking of the waters: Only in a small percentage of women does the rupture of water initiate labor, in most cases the rupture of the amniotic sac occurs after the onset of labor. It manifests itself as a slight loss of transparent and odorless color or as a trickle down the legs.


  • Correlation study between increased fetal movement during the third trimester and neonatal outcome
  • Fetal Movement
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