218 chapter 10: Pregnancy
What to expect
Feeling the baby move
For most women, feeling the baby move inside the belly is the most
exciting part of being pregnant. And most women, regardless of their
disability, seem to be able to notice the movement, although the
sensation can be difficult to recognize at first. Many women describe
it as a fluttering movement, and others compare it to gas in the
stomach or intestines. Some notice a feeling of pressure inside the
belly and then use their hands to feel the movement.
When the baby starts to move in the 4th month, the movements
will be very soft and you may not feel them every day. But by the
5th month, you should feel them every day (not all day long—there
will be periods of rest in between movements). If you are concerned
because you have not felt the baby move for several hours, eat or drink something
and then lie on your side in a quiet place for about 30 minutes. During that time
you should feel the baby move at least 3 times. If you do not feel or notice any
movement, talk with a midwife or health worker.
Hearing the baby’s heartbeat
This can be done after about 5 months and gets easier to do as the pregnancy gets
more advanced. A baby’s heartbeat is very quick and quiet. It is not an easy thing
to hear, even for someone with better-than-average hearing, and it is even harder to
feel. A birth attendant or health worker can use a fetoscope to listen to the baby’s
heartbeat. It is difficult for the mother herself to do unless she has a stethoscope
(like the one used for taking blood pressure).
A one-ear fetoscope can
be used to hear the baby’s
The baby’s heartbeat is quiet and quick. It may
sound like a watch ticking under a pillow, only
faster. The baby’s heartbeat is about twice as fast
as a healthy adult heartbeat. You can listen to it
yourself with a stethoscope.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007