Fetal Movements in late Pregnancy : Categorization, Self-assessment, and Prenatal Attachment in relation to women’s experiences

Sammanfattning: Aim: To explore how pregnant women experience fetal movements in late pregnancy. Specific aims were:  to study women’s experiences during the time prior to receiving news that their unborn baby had died in utero (I), to investigate women’s descriptions of fetal movements (II), investigate the association between the magnitude of fetal movements and level of prenatal attachment (III), and to study women’s experiences using two different self-assessment methods (IV).Methods: Interviews, questionnaires, and observations were used.Results: Premonition that something had happened to their unborn baby, based on a lack of fetal movements, was experienced by the participants. The overall theme “something is wrong” describes the women’s insight that the baby’s life was threatened (I). Fetal movements that were sorted into the domain “powerful movements” were perceived in late pregnancy by 96 % of the participants (II). Perceiving frequent fetal movements on at least three occasions per 24 hours was associated with higher scores of prenatal attachment in all the three subscales on PAI-R. The majority (55%) of the 456 participants reported average occasions of frequent fetal movements, 26% several occasions and 18% reported few occasions of frequent fetal movements, during the current gestational week.  (III). Only one of the 40 participants did not find at least one method for monitoring fetal movements suitable. Fifteen of the 39 participants reported a preference for the mindfetalness method and five for the count-to-ten method. The women described the observation of the movements as a safe and reassuring moment for communication with their unborn baby (IV).Conclusion:  In full-term and uncomplicated pregnancies, women usually perceive fetal movements as powerful. Furthermore, women in late pregnancy who reported frequent fetal movements on several occasions during a 24-hour period seem to have a high level of prenatal attachment. Women who used self-assessment methods for monitoring fetal movements felt calm and relaxed when observing the movements of their babies. They had a high compliance for both self-assessment methods. Women that had experienced a stillbirth in late pregnancy described that they had a premonition before they were told that their baby had died in utero.