Reporting reduced fetal movements

What happens when you report reduced movements? This page outlines the care you should expect to get, depending on which stage of the pregnancy you are at.

This page outlines the care that you should expect to receive when you report with reduced fetal movements. Your care will depend on which stage of the pregnancy you are at.

Visit this page to find out more about what baby movements feel like, why it is so important to monitor them.

Visit this page to download translations of information about movements in pregnancy in more than 50 languages. 

Your treatment will depend on your stage of pregnancy:

Less than 24 weeks pregnant

Most women first become aware of their baby moving when they are 16–24 weeks pregnant. 

If you have not felt your baby move by week 24 contact your midwife, who will check your baby’s heartbeat. 

An ultrasound scan may be arranged and you may be seen by a specialist to check your baby’s wellbeing if a problem is suspected.

Between 24 and 26 weeks pregnant

You should contact your maternity unit and they should see you the same day if possible. Your baby’s heartbeat will be checked and you will have a full check-up that should include:

  • checking the size of your baby by measuring your bump
  • checking your blood pressure
  • testing your urine for protein.

If your baby is smaller than expected, an ultrasound scan may be arranged to check on your baby’s growth. 

Over 26 weeks pregnant

You must contact local maternity unit. You must not wait until the next day to seek help and you should be seen on the same day.  

If it is out of hours you may be asked to go to the labour ward and wait to be seen.  

  1. You will be asked about your baby’s movements  
  2. You will have an antenatal check-up, including checking your baby’s heartbeat and measuring the size of your bump
  3. Your baby’s heart rate will be monitored using a machine called a CTG, usually for at least  
    20 minutes  

You should not be discharged until you are happy with your baby’s movements again.  

You may also have an ultrasound scan if:

  • your baby is smaller than expected
  • your pregnancy has other factors that are associated with a higher risk of stillbirth
  • you are still not happy with the movements even if the heart rate is normal.

The ultrasound scan is normally done within 24 hours.  

These checks usually show that all is well.  

Most women who have 1 episode of reduction in their baby’s movements go on to have a healthy baby. 

What should I do if I find my baby’s movements are reduced again?

If, after your check up, you are still not happy with your baby’s movement, contact either your midwife or maternity unit again straightaway, even if everything was normal last time. You are not wasting time or being a nuisance.

NEVER HESITATE to contact your midwife or the maternity unit for advice, no matter how many times this happens.  

There are midwives on duty in the maternity unit until 24 hours a day.  

Home dopplers

Do not be temped to use a home doppler to check on the health of your baby at home. Even if you detect a heartbeat it does not mean your baby is well.

Reduced fetal movements information - translations

Visit this page to download translations of our reduced fetal movements information in more than 50 languages. 

NHS England (2023) Saving babies’ lives version three: a care bundle for reducing perinatal mortality.

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (2011). Reduced fetal movements. Green-top guideline No. 57.

NHS your baby’s movements (Page last reviewed: 12 October 2021 Next review due: 12 October 2024)

Review dates
Reviewed: 12 December 2023
Next review: 12 December 2026