How I Do it? - Worth reading …experiences of DEBDAS (Jamshedpur)

Dr. A K Debdas
A striking observation

In my then new job in an industrial hospital, in the antenatal clinic, at the time of clinical interview, as I used to (still do) ask patients, like any other obstetrician, whether she was feeling her fetal movements alright or not. Strikingly, I often used to notice that before the woman answered the husband used to come out with some candid comment about it like – ‘Yes doctor it moves alright’, ‘Oh, it moves such a lot’, ‘It has slowed down a bit’, ‘Some nights it almost revolts to be released from that cramped place.’, ‘It is going to be either a footballer or a break dancer’ etc. These rather smart couples invariably were all educated and were primiparae carrying late pregnancy. It is this that turned on my mind and made me think – how can he tell ! and so precisely, so confidently !.

It is the year 1976 and Telco (now called Tata Motors) Hospital that I am talking about.

In this hospital a large majority of my patients were wives of young brilliant (Tata worthy !) engineers and many were engineers themselves married to an engineer boy of her college because by that era in India the engineering colleges had started looking colourful like the medical colleges.

A light probing

One day I decided that I have to clear this soft mystery and directly asked one husband about it – as to how does he know it so well and this was the answer I got :“Every night before we actually fall asleep we chat for a little while in bed lying on our sides face to face lightly embraced. It is then that I can feel occasional movement of the baby on the surface of my tummy transmitted through the wall of my wife’s protruding tummy which somewhat bulges into my tummy”

This immediately reminded of my own experience while my wife was carrying our first child and so I decided to do a small study of such couples/husbands. I inter-viewed total 30 husbands and each admitted of perceiving the occasional fetal movement on their tummy.

Implementation of the finding into practice

Based on the above experience I decided to use this everyday routine of the young couples as an additional means of checking the status of movement of their fetuses.

Since then I have been advising selected patients carrying uncomplicated pregnancy of 37 plus weeks of gestation to do this additional pleasurable exercise in addition to the two one hourly session of the usual solo Fetal movement count during the dayby the wife on her own. 

Possible advantages of husband monitoring  fetal movement

  1. It guarantees that the fetus has actually moved because even another external individual has been able to feel it. This can do away with the odd incidence of mother going on counting fetal movement even three days after intrauterine fetal death.

  2. It also certifies that the movement was strong – strong enough for an external individual to feel it – such babies are expected to be a vigorous baby. Sick fetuses (e g fetuses with gross IUGR) on the other hand may be expected to move feebly – which may not be perceivable by the husband.

  3. For mothers who are somewhat poorly sensitive to recognition of their fetal movement, their husbands can guide them as to when the fetus moved and what is a real fetal movement by trying for joint perception of the movements.

  4. No additional expense is involved.

  5. Daily and domestic fetal monitoring is possible

  6. It promotes BONDING of the fetus with its Father


Three unique advantages of using the husband for fetal monitoring
 · He is readily available
 · He is naturally keenly interested because it is his child
 · He, a valuable human resource, remains totally unutilized during the whole antenatal period like a bystander, why not use him? 


  • Chance of husband/the father falling asleep.

  • It slightly increases the frequency of coitus ! This has also been the finding of Dr. Pratap Kumar of Manipal (personal communication). But, let us rethink, could it constitute an advantage rather than a disadvantage for the 37 plus weeks gravidae carrying normal pregnancy. Of course, it naturally occurred from the posterior which the couple instinctively arranged as I found out.

  • The method is of course not applicable if the wife is sent to her mother’s place for delivery which has been customary in India.However, nowadays, since most organizations give free medical facility as perks of the husbands job, the old trend has significantly reversed and now usually the mothers  go to their daughter’s house to take care of her rather than daughter going to their mother’s place. This is happening more frequently amongst the working couples. 

Published record

The method has been published in the International Journal of Obst & Gyne, September 1991, FIGO Supplement, Elsevier, p-47.:

A striking feedback on the method
Of the many feedbacks that I have received the following are worth mentioning which I got from the obstetricians of the developed world -

“It can be a powerful tool to promote bonding”, “It can generate a special kind of ‘Triple bonding’ – a composite bond between the mother and the fetus and the father altogether and all at the same time – a FAMILY BOND !. 

Our immediate past President of FOGSI, Dr. Pankaj Desai, as long as 20 years ago enthusiastically commented about it during the Pre-congress workshop at AICOG
Nagpur in 1988..

Anyway, if nothing else, this practice makes the pregnancy perhaps little more enjoyable specially for the enlightened couple.______________________________________________'




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