Kick Counts- Why Baby's Movement Matters.
Frequently, we have clients ask us about Kick Counts. How do you perform them? Are they really necessary? What is the point? When should I call my doctor?
Here are some facts on kick counts and why they are important to start performing once you hit the 3rd trimester. Also- some resources to make counting kicks easier!
Why Count Kicks?
Counting your baby’s kicks (and jabs and rolls!) is important because a change in movement in the third trimester is often the earliest sign of distress in a baby. When moms know what is normal for their baby, then they are more likely to notice potential red flags. Noticing a change in baby’s movements and alerting your healthcare provider early on, can save your baby’s life!
Why am I worried about Stillbirth? Is that really still a thing in 2019 in the USA?
Unfortunately, yes. Approximately 24,000 babies in the United States are lost via Stillbirth every year. This equates to about 1 in every 167 births ending with this outcome. Black mothers statistically have an even higher chance of late term infant loss. This number grows to approximately 1 in 94 in Black Mothers. It is estimated that if all women counted kicks, that 6,000 babies a year would be saved in the US alone.
I Thought Once I Got to the 2nd Trimester I was In The Clear?
Given the numbers above, 1 out of every 167 pregnancies end in stillbirth, and 1 out of every 94 pregnancies for Black Mothers. 50% of birthing people who have lost a baby to stillbirth in the THIRD trimester noted a gradual decline in fetal movements PRIOR to the death of their baby. This would seem to indicate that in many cases, stillbirth is not a sudden process. That being said- there may be time to save your baby if you are aware of their typical patterns and contact your provider as soon as you notice a change.
What is Considered Normal?
Normal is unique to each baby and each pregnancy. This is why counting kicks REGULARLY is so important. Getting used to counting kicks every day will help you learn your baby’s typical pattern. Be sure to alert your provider as soon as possible if there are any significant changes to your baby’s movements. If you cannot reach your provider (on a weekend or after hours), go to your nearest emergency room and tell them what is going on. They will check on you and your baby to ensure your safety. TRUST YOUR INTUITION. If something feels wrong- call your provider immediately.
Do Babies Kick Less Towards The End of Pregnancy?
Baby’s movements may change towards the end of pregnancy and you may feel less sharp kicks and more rolling movement. However, NO- baby should not be moving less overall towards the end of your pregnancy. It should take about the same amount of time for you to feel 10 fetal movements. Call your provider immediately if you notice changes.
Ok, You Have Me Convinced- How Do I Count Kicks?
Starting at 28 weeks, pick your time based on when your baby is usually active. Every day at the same time, lay down in a quiet room on your left side. Count each of your baby’s movements (kicks, rolls, or jabs – but not hiccups, as those are involuntary) until you get to 10. Note the time you start counting movements. Most of the time it will take less than a half hour, but each baby is unique. Keep a log of how long it takes to get 10 movements each day. You should begin to see a pattern after a few days. Here is a log you can keep: https://www.countthekicks.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CtK_Chart_8.5x11-p1p2.pdf
Also, there is a kick counting app that may help you do this as well. Look for “Count The Kicks!” by Healthy Birth Day in the iTunes or Android App Store!
For more information on the importance of counting kicks- visit www.countthekicks.org