When does baby stop moving before labor? This is a question that many pregnant women ask themselves in their final weeks of pregnancy. You may be wondering if your baby will continue to move as much when you are close to the end of your term, or if they’ll stop altogether!
Babies will not stop moving before labor; they should move throughout pregnancy, including during labor. Their movements may change in the weeks leading up to their birth, but should not slow or stop at all.
So what changes in those weeks leading up to birth?
How does baby move during the third trimester?
As baby is getting bigger, they’re going to be running out of room! Their movements will change from what you’re used to, but they will absolutely still move around – fetal movements tend to peak at around 28-34 weeks!
In the third trimester, baby is getting stronger and stronger – so their movements pack a bit more punch than they used to. You’re also more likely to be able to see those movements more clearly from the outside. Hello dad, siblings and grandparents!
It’s a bit trickier to move around these days though! Those sprawling stretches simply aren’t a thing your little one can do anymore. In my case, my babies felt like they were ‘rolling’ around, unlike the ‘rattling’ around they did in the second trimester.
Baby does not stop moving before labor because they need space though! Check with your OBGYN if you feel that something isn’t right; if the baby is not kicking as much or you can’t feel them moving anymore. Consider doing a kick count and keeping a record of your baby’s movements around this time.
How do baby’s movements change before labor?
As you get closer to delivery day, you might notice that there is a bit more space between each kick or roll than normal. Your baby will start to move itself so that it is facing the right direction for delivery.
In this cramped space that the baby finds itself in, your little one may be more likely to react and move because of sensory perceptions. (such as noise or light) Their senses are developing quite rapidly at this point, so they’re giving these new inputs a test! Your baby may even be startled by a sound or light, and actually stop moving temporarily in reaction to these things.
I’ve written about signs that might mean baby is coming early or late which could give some more insight.
Can babies stop moving because they have run out of room?
Your baby’s living quarters do get more cramped in the last stages of pregnancy, but they will absolutely not stop moving because of available space. If you’ve noticed that your baby doesn’t seem to be moving as much, or at all – it may be time to call the doctor.
Do babies go quiet before labor?
Babies should continue to move before and during labor. The kinds of movements a baby will make may vary from week to week in the lead-up to birth, but should not slow or stop at all.
Can babies move too much before labor?
Babies should continue to move before and during labor. If your baby is moving much more than you’re used to, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor.
How long can baby safely stop moving for?
Just like us, your baby sleeps in utero! Generally, they’ll sleep for 20-40 minutes or so, and up to 90 minutes on rare occasions. They sleep both day, and night.
if your baby has stopped moving, you can do a little check to see if they are sleeping. You may have heard some of these tips when you have had ultrasounds; sometimes sonographers will ask you to do some of these things to try and encourage your baby to move into a better position for an ultrasound.
- Have a snack. If you are trying to get the baby to kick or feel some movement, help yourself to a healthy snack. It can be toasts, fruits, nuts or even candy. The baby usually responds to the mother’s eating pattern, and an increase in the mom’s blood sugar can also jolt the baby into moving or kicking too. Some mothers, therefore, agree that washing down the snack with a glass of natural juice helps the process even more (remember to do it in moderation). My stenographer suggested that I go to the nearby café and pick up an orange juice. (Wondering if you can eat wasabi, or what else it is safe to eat while pregnant? We’ve got you covered!)
- Do a few jumping jacks. As ridiculous as this may seem (considering that we expect a pregnant woman to jump and stretch her limbs), it is a proven tactic in getting the baby to move. The way it works is that the mother’s movement will jiggle baby in the womb, and may prompt the baby to move to find a more comfortable position.
- Softly poke or jiggle your belly. This action works in a way similar to the previous exercise. It gets the baby to reciprocate the movement simply by responding or may move the baby into a new position. Remember not to exert so much force that it causes discomfort. (You can read about the safety of vibrating massagers during pregnancy in our article here)
- Shine a flashlight on your belly. As baby’s birthday approaches, their eyes will be developed enough to perceive light and dark. Shining a light on the stomach will prompt the baby to look away or try to obstruct the light which will result in movement.
- Talk or sing to the baby. Babies have hearing that is developed enough to distinguish noises by the 22nd week of gestation. Simply talking to your baby or singing a song can evoke a response from the baby.
- Cool the belly. This can mean drinking a cold glass of water, or some people opt for placing an ice pack on the mother’s belly. Either way, babies can react to the cold sensation because they are confined in the warm snugly uterus. The reaction may be in the form of kicking or simple movements that are visible from outside the belly.
The other thing you can do is to try and stay as still as possible. When you are still you will be able to feel more subtle movements from your baby. newborn babies like rocking because it feels like when they were in utero and their mother was moving around. Sometimes, when their mother is still, a baby will actually be disturbed by a lack of rocking! Queue movement! Try laying on one side, and if you haven’t got a response out of baby after five minutes or so, roll over to the other side.
It is better to talk with your care provider before you make any decisions.
A care provider will give you a recommendation based on what your baby is doing.
You should contact your healthcare provider immediately if you are concerned, particularly if you are over 26 weeks. A lack of movement in babies older than this gestation will get you seen to in priority.
How long should I wait before speaking with my doctor?
Do not hesitate to call your child’s care provider if you are concerned about your baby’s movements.
- Don’t wait for your next appointment, scan or exam (even if it is coming up soon).
- Do not wait and see what happens.
- Do not wait for the next day to get assessed, call now!
- Home dopplers and mobile apps should not be used to assess your baby’s health. These devices can give false comfort; even if your baby’s heartbeat is detected, it could still be in serious condition.
- If you have any concerns, always contact your maternity unit.
The earlier a problem is detected, the better.
If my baby isn’t moving much, what does it mean?
An abrupt decrease or change in baby’s movements could be a sign that your baby is not well. To conserve energy, babies can slow down movements, or stop moving completely. Low oxygen levels, low nutrients, or low amniotic liquid could cause this.
It is important to intervene early based on decreased fetal movements. Research reveals a correlation between decreased fetal movements, poor perinatal outcomes and stillbirth. 55% of moms who experienced stillbirths felt that their baby’s movements were slowing down or stopping, but had not told anyone.
Factors that influence the perception of fetal movement during pregnancy
How much you feel your baby moving can be influenced by many factors.
- Consumption of glucose by mothers. Babies respond to an increase in blood sugar levels by moving more.
- Maternal activity. You can become distracted when you are busy and active, and lose track of your baby’s movements.
- Multiple pregnancies. Having two or more babies in utero can make it more challenging to identify which baby is moving, and which is more quiet.
- Anterior placenta. You can have reduced movement between your baby and the outside world if your placenta is attached to the front wall of your uterus.
- Position of the fetus. The position of your baby can affect where you feel movement, but it shouldn’t impact how many you feel.
- Alcohol and smoking. Both have been associated with decreased fetal movements.
- Medicines. Some medications that you take can cross the placenta and have a sedative affect to your baby. Your baby may become less active during this time.
- Fetal malformations. Reduced fetal movement can be caused by abnormalities in the central nervous system and skeletal system.
If you are concerned about your baby’s movements, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Do I need to count my baby’s movements?
It is important to be familiar with the normal movements of your baby.
There isn’t enough evidence to strongly recommend the routine use of kick charts and counts to avoid poor outcomes, but kick charts or counts can be used by some women to help them understand their baby’s movement patterns.
Regardless of whether there are problems or not, your obstetrician, midwife, or GP will likely ask you about what you are feeling and experiencing at your appointments. Having a familiarity with what is normal for your baby is helpful in these discussions. Ask your doctor for advice about counts or kick charts.
You should trust your gut instincts
This article has been a bit of doom and gloom which might leave you feeling anxious. Keep in mind that times, when baby has decreased movements, do not necessarily indicate a problem. You may be experiencing a more peaceful day than usual.
Your care provider is the only way to be certain.
Acknowledge when something isn’t right, even if it’s not obvious. Your instincts are your best guide. You should act if you feel that something is not right.
Maternity care can be accessed 24 hours a day, so there is always someone to talk to about your concerns. Never feel that you are inconveniencing your care providers, or that you would be wasting their time.
Simply pick up your phone.