Fetal activity following stimulation of the mother's abdomen, feet, and hands

Miguel A. Diego, John N.I. Dieter, Tiffany Field, Jean Pierre Lecanuet, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Julia Beutler, Shay Largie, Mercedes Redzepi, Fawwaz A. Salman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Fetal activity during midgestation (M age = 19.8 weeks) was studied in response to vibratory stimulation of the mother's abdomen (at the height of the fetal head), foot massage, hand massage, or control condition (no stimulation). Consistent with previous research conducted during midgestation, the fetuses of mothers who received two trials of 3-sec, 60-Hz vibratory stimulation did not show changes in movement. In contrast, the fetuses of mothers who received a 3-min foot massage showed greater movement than the control fetuses. However, stimulating the mother's hand (another highly innervated area) did not increase fetal activity. By late gestation (M age = 35.4 weeks), vibratory stimulation resulted in increased fetal activity. These findings replicate previous research indicating that vibratory stimulation to the mother's abdomen does not elicit fetal activity until later in gestation. Furthermore, our findings indicate that stimulating the mothers'feet, but not the hands, can evoke fetal activity in midgestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-406
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Fetal activity
  • Massage
  • Vibratory stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Embryology
  • Psychology(all)


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