Should I Worry if My Baby is Not Moving as Much as Usual?

Please Contact Your Physician When Concerned

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Whenever you feel like your baby is not moving as much as usual—especially when you're far enough along that you've been feeling regular movement for some time—it is best to call your OB/GYN.

There is a good chance that there is nothing wrong, but if something did happen to be wrong, time would be of the essence—and it is better to take the chance that you may be going in to see your physician over nothing.

In some cases, decreased movement may be an early warning sign of a condition that could lead to stillbirth, so it is absolutely best to err on the side of caution.

If you are sure your baby's movements have become less frequent than usual, such as if you've been monitoring kick counts, call within the next 12 hours and follow the advice your physician gives you.

If you're not sure if your baby is moving less, try counting your baby's kicks over two hours at a time when your baby is usually active. If she usually starts kicking after you eat, for example, have a snack and then lie down for a few hours while counting the number of times you feel her kick. If you feel fewer than 10 kicks in two hours, call your physician as soon as possible. If you feel no kicks, call right away—don't wait.

However, whenever you're not sure whether you need to call your physician, always err on the side of caution and call.

It's better to get extra monitoring of a perfectly healthy baby than risk not getting those monitoring tests when you truly need them.

Common Questions About Decreased Fetal Movement

Here are some common questions people have when they are concerned about their babies' movement patterns in later pregnancy.

I've been monitoring my baby's kicks for weeks. I'm 32 weeks pregnant. He usually kicks between 30 and 50 times in the hour after I eat lunch. Today he only kicked 10 times in an hour. That's still more than 10 kicks in two hours—do I still need to call my physician?

Yes, you should still call your physician any time you think your baby is moving less than usual. Explain that you've been charting your baby's kick counts and that your baby kicked less than usual today. You may or may not need to come in right away for monitoring, but make sure to let your doctor know about your observation so she can determine the appropriate course of action.

What kind of tests do OB-GYNs perform when babies aren't moving as much as usual?

If your physician feels there is a potential cause for concern based on your observations, he or she will probably ask you to come in for monitoring. The most common test used in these situations is a non-stress test (NST), which gives your OB-GYN detailed information on your baby's heart rate patterns and a good idea of whether there is any problem with your baby.

If the NST has reassuring results, your physician may perform additional tests or may send you home and tell you to call if your baby doesn't start moving more. If the NST reveals any cause for concern, your physician will probably perform more tests right away, like an ultrasound, in order to determine what needs to be done. You may be admitted to the hospital for observation and/or treatment.

I'm only 21 weeks and I haven't felt movement the past day. I don't really have any idea whether this is normal. Should I be concerned?

Whenever you're in doubt over whether anything is normal or not during pregnancy, call your physician and let him or her make the determination. Fetal movement can be irregular when you're still in the second trimester, and there's probably nothing wrong—but if you're worried, call your doctor.

My baby is moving less than usual, but the heart rate is strong on my fetal monitor. Should I still be worried?

If your baby is moving less than usual, call your physician. Don't rely on a fetal heart monitor to tell you your baby is okay. Fetal dopplers and other heart monitors can only tell you that your baby's heart is beating. They can't tell you, for example, whether there is a problem with the placenta or if your baby is in other physiological distress. You need to call your physician right away.

A Word From Verywell

If you are not experiencing your baby move like usual (or you are not sure), call your doctor and get it checked out. It is best to be safe and undergo extra monitoring. 


Fretts RC. (August 2016). Decreased fetal movement: Diagnosis, evaluation, and management. In: UpToDate, Lockwood CJ (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA. 

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