Maternal understanding of fetal movement in third trimester: A means for fetal monitoring and reducing stillbirth

  • BN Olagbuji
  • S Igbarumah
  • AA Akintayo
  • BA Olofinbiyi
  • PO Aduloju
  • OO Alao
Keywords: Antenatal care, concerns, fetal movement, knowledge, maternal knowledge, pregnancy, surveillance, stillbirth


Background: Fetal movement, a sign of life, is widely considered as an indicator of fetal health status. Therefore, perceived alteration in regular fetal movement after the age of viability may signify impending adverse perinatal outcome.

Aims: This study aimed to determine maternal knowledge, behavior, and concerns about abnormal fetal movement in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Materials and Methods: A total of 225 women were surveyed using a self.administered questionnaire at the out-patient prenatal clinics of two tertiary health facilities in Nigeria between December 1, 2012 through January 31, 2013. Questions addressed knowledge, perception behavior, and concerns about experience of abnormal fetal movement.

Results: Correct Knowledge of excessive and decreased fetal movement was found in 47% and 31.1% of respondents, respectively. Majority of women (87.6%) either had no knowledge of normal parameters of fetal activity or did not recall being told that movement frequency and strength should increase in the third trimester. The proportion of women who expressed concern over excessive and decreased fetal movement was 31.1% and 21.8%, respectively. Maternal education was significantly associated with correct knowledge of decreased fetal movement (P = 0.026). Almost 36% of respondents had knowledge of at least one potential consequence of abnormal fetal movement.

Conclusion: Maternal educational level is an important factor in the early identification of abnormality of fetal movement. The unsatisfactory  knowledge and poor perception behavior among respondents reflect the need for a guideline, particularly during antenatal care, on information and management of abnormal fetal movement in our setting to prevent
avoidable stillbirth.

Key words: Antenatal care, concerns, fetal movement, knowledge,  maternal knowledge, pregnancy, surveillance, stillbirth


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eISSN: 1119-3077