Kicking up a storm

Before heading off on holiday, the alien’s antics were covert to say the least. I could definitely feel it from 20 weeks, but the minute anyone tried to share the experience, stillness would reign. Just before the holiday, the activity levels increased and Fred and my friend Anna felt it kick out properly (I think this freaked Anna out more than anything else).

Since I started to feel it, it’s always been quite active, but with new found strength it has headed into hyper-drive in the last two weeks. I don’t know exactly what it’s up to in there, you hear people talk of somersaults and such, but I have no idea how you tell exactly what part of the body is where, just that one end or other, or occasionally both, are having a good old time clobbering the edges of its world and hence my belly and, most fun of all, my bladder come in for a pounding.
Whereas at first I was quite freaked out by the presence of something alien to me acting obviously independently inside me, now I’ve got used to it and find it comforting to know it’s still there – most definitely alive and kicking. The most fun is when it lies prostrate across my belly and if you put your hands on both sides you can get two nudges for the price of one. The least fun is when it feels awkward, I’m guessing this is when it’s lying against my internal organs or something – either way it feels uncomfortable and the belly gets a talking to and a helping hand to encourage it to move out of that particular position.

It’s also fun when you can feel a part of it through the belly. I don’t know which parts are presenting themselves, but sometimes you can actually feel something solid in there resting up against your skin – more physical proof that you’re growing a baby in there rather indulging in too many croissants (or both are happening at least).

Now I’m past six months, the movement should start to become more regular and by the seventh month some experts think you should be keeping an eye on it. There is no set way of doing it, but the suggestion is to do it when you know the baby is most active and you have time to count without getting distracted – and to give nature a helping hand by drinking some juice or equivalent beforehand. From
“To Do in Month 7: After week 28, you can expect to feel fetal activity every day. Set aside some quiet time twice a day to ‘count kicks’, or any fetal movement. Ten movements of any kind in an hour or less is normal. If you haven’t felt ten movements within an hour, have a snack or some fruit juice, lie down, and continue counting: if it takes more than two hours to reach ten, contact your midwife or hospital straight away.”
Although, as I said advice differs, First Candle suggests waiting another hour and trying again before pushing the midwife / hospital button.

Counting kicks is a bit of a controversial approach, with some declaring that given the variation in fetal movements, counting isn’t helpful and just worries mothers-to-be unnecessarily. Equally, some studies have shown that counting kicks does not improve the outcome for the baby; a cohort study of almost 70,000 women “showed no benefit from monitoring in reducing the rate of antenatal death from all causes” and another study of almost 500 women found no relationship between maternal perception of fetal movements and poor fetal outcome. There may be a lot of reasons why you don’t feel movement, such as it just being a lazy day for the fetus, being overweight or having an anterior placenta, which are nothing to worry about. Indeed NICE actively recommend against use of fetal movement counting, so at least in the UK this isn’t an advised practice.

So to do or not to do? I think an informal approach will work for me, doing it if I’ve not felt anything for a bit and trying not to panic if it’s soundly asleep in there – waiting a few hours and trying again.

But all of this makes me understand now why pregnant women have that annoying habit of constantly rubbing their bellies – it’s not just to abate the itchiness (although there is probably some of that too), but to keep a connection to the being forming in there, to acknowledge its movements and take comfort from knowing it’s still there.

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