Reduced fetal movements

Reduced fetal movements in pregnancy is common, causes concern and anxiety for pregnant women and healthcare professionals, and can be associated with poor pregnancy outcomes; therefore clinicians need guidance in standardised assessment of these pregnancies.

Julia Unterscheider, Keelin O'Donoghue
Book chapter
Full Citation
Unterscheider J, O’Donoghue K. Reduced fetal movements. In Sifakis S and Vrachnis N, eds. From Preconception to Postpartum. In Tech; 2012:207-220.
Link to Publication


A reduction of fetal movements causes concern and anxiety for the pregnant woman as well as for the clinicians involved in her care, and is a common reason for referral to hospital during pregnancy. Reduced fetal movements (RFM) affect 5-15% pregnancies overall. While perceiving fetal movements is different for every woman, any pregnant woman who presents with concern about reduced fetal movements should be taken seriously. This assessment should include a detailed clinical review and examination, with some tests of fetal wellbeing. The significance of RFM may be unclear until all possible serious underlying causes have been ruled out, and in many cases a cause is not found. However, there is a lot of variation in the clinical routines reported in the management of RFM and these do not always match the information given to pregnant women, the available literature or expert guidelines. This leads to clinical uncertainty for both pregnant women and healthcare professionals and may put patient safety at risk. Development and circulation of good practice guidelines by expert groups is necessary.

Pregnancy Loss Research Group

Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Cork, Fifth Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, T12 YE02, Ireland,