New Australian research has found that women can identify only a little more than one-third of their fetus's movements, usually when the movements involve more than one fetal body part.
The research has the potential to help calm anxious mothers-to-be who are worried their babies have stopped moving.
"It is terribly stressful when the baby seems to stop moving, because mothers are so in tune with their babies that to notice a change is very worrying," said Christine East, the study leader and a midwife and clinical researcher at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne.
Previous studies estimated women felt up to 88 per cent of fetal movements, she wrote in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. But often women were unaware of what they are supposed to be feeling, or were not focusing properly on the movements, she said.
"You have got lots of things happening in a stomach and it can be a bit tricky to figure out what's what," she said.
Vicki Flenady, a board member of the Australian and New Zealand Stillbirth Alliance, run through the Mater Hospital in Queensland, said about 10 per cent of women would experience reduced fetal movement late in their pregnancy.
Fetuses with reduced movements were three times more likely than others to be restricted in their growth, and might have other problems, she said.
"But the majority of babies are fine and that is the message we need to get out there," she said.
Helen Kang, who is about 34 weeks' pregnant, has had two miscarriages and said feeling the baby moving reassured her and her husband, Sam Shennan.
"I like feeling the baby is fine and growing, and it does feel like it is keeping me company as well."
But Ms Kang initially had trouble feeling her baby's movements. "My doctors asked me to be conscious of the movements, but I couldn't really feel anything," she said.
While she is relieved to be feeling the baby now, she was "thrilled" to see an image of the child at Sydney Ultrasound for Women in the city. "It was amazing … it looked like a little person."Source