Fetal Activity Test

A healthy baby will move around often in the womb. The fetal activity test (FAT) is a simple procedure that involves counting the number of fetal movements within 30 or 60 minutes. The mother may keep track of the movements herself, or they can be monitored by ultrasound or with an electronic monitor that is attached to a belt that goes around the mother’s abdomen. This test might be used in conjunction with other tests to monitor an overdue or at-risk baby.

In general, fetuses are more active in the afternoon and evening, so if the fetus is not moving and appears to be asleep, you may drink some fruit juice or eat something in hopes that the meal will stimulate some activity. It could be a sign of trouble if only a few fetal movements are recorded, and your health-care provider may suggest a non-stress test .

You may also keep track of your baby’s movements or kicks on a chart when you’re not visiting the doctor or midwife. Fetal movements become more regular after week 28 or so, and they peak at about 375 movements a day at week 32 , although movement varies by baby.

After week 32, the growing fetus starts to fill up the uterus so there isn’t much room for big maneuvers. If you are approaching your due date and you don’t feel any movement or fewer than five movements in a six-hour period, contact your health-care provider immediately.