Maternal knowledge of fetal movements in late pregnancy


Correspondence: Prof Lesley McCowan, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medical and Health Science, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. Email:



Current evidence suggests that fetal movements are an important indicator of fetal well-being. About a quarter of women who present with decreased fetal movements have adverse perinatal outcomes such as intrauterine growth restriction and stillbirth. There are no New Zealand studies reporting maternal knowledge about fetal movements in late pregnancy.


To determine what information women in the third trimester of pregnancy receive about fetal movements, both from their maternity caregivers and from other sources.


A convenience sample of 100 women attending two antenatal clinics in Auckland in November and December 2011 were interviewed by a medical student.


Ninety-seven per cent of women reported that their lead maternity carer (LMC) regularly asked about fetal movements, and 62% recalled receiving information from their LMC about what to expect regarding fetal movements in the last three months of pregnancy. Thirty-three per cent recalled receiving information from their LMC that their baby's movements should increase or stay the same and 20% that their baby's movements may decrease in late pregnancy. Forty per cent were advised to contact their LMC if they had any concerns about their baby's movements, and one-quarter were informed to seek advice if they had fewer than 10 movements in a day.


Our study suggests a proportion of pregnant women in Auckland do not have optimum information about fetal movements. Strategies to enhance maternal knowledge such as a pamphlet about fetal movements may be helpful.