Rachel Riley says baby stopped moving in womb after online trolls caused her stress

Sabrina Barr
Getty Images

Countdown star Rachel Riley has spoken about how she felt her baby stop moving in the womb for a couple of days after she was trolled online.

The mathematician, who is expecting her first child with former Strictly Come Dancing dancer Pasha Kovalev, explained the impact trolling had on her mental wellbeing on podcast Trolled, alongside EastEnders actor Tracy Ann Oberman.

“I was very stressed and upset for a couple of days and my baby stopped wriggling for a couple of days,” Riley said.

“So at that point, it’s like, ‘You know what, nah’. It’s not worth the hormones.”

  • Read more

While speaking on the podcast, Riley explained how she received an increasing number of vitriolic comments from online trolls after she spoke publicly in favour of a BBC Panorama documentary.

The documentary had investigated how the Labour Party has handled accusations of antisemitism.

“I’ve now changed most of my Twitter settings as you don’t need to see [the online trolls],” Riley said.

“They’re not after proper debate. They’re not after their minds changing. They’re not doing it for virtuous reasons, so I block them.”

Sophie King, a midwife for baby’s charity Tommy’s, told The Independent that stress during pregnancy “does not cause reduced foetal movements”.

“But stress (whatever the cause) can make your focus change, making you less aware of your baby’s movements,” Ms King said.

The midwife stated that if woman is worried about their baby’s movements, then it is “vital” they contact their midwife or maternity unit “immediately”.

“Most women who have experienced one episode of fewer movements will go on to have a straightforward pregnancy and healthy baby,” she said.

“However, it is important that you are checked to make sure everything is going well.”


Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Riley – alongside a group of high-profile celebrities – has pledged to fight online abuse as part of a new social media campaign.

The aim of the “Don’t Feed the Trolls” campaign, created by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, is to encourage social media users to mute, block and report any derogatory comments.

Other celebrities taking part in the campaign include London mayor Sadiq Khan, television presenter Gary Lineker and Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden.

For more information about baby movements in the womb during pregnancy, visit the Tommy’s website here.

Read more

Read more Lineker, Khan and Riley to fight online hate by silencing trolls