How to Count Your Baby's Kicks, and Why is It So Important?
Counting kicks during pregnancy is a way of saving babies' lives - and one of those could be yours.
From the moment you experience that first fluttering sensation in your tummy, to those strong (and sometimes painful!) jabs and punches from little elbows and knees – your baby’s kicks – from the very first one to the very last, are all precious. However, counting kicks during pregnancy is also an important way for expectant mothers to keep track of their baby’s movements during the third trimester of pregnancy.
It is important to keep track of all your baby’s movements daily in the third trimester, as any changes detected in this period are often the earliest sign of distress in a baby.
When a mother has established regular kick patterns, she has a sense of what is considered normal and regular, and what is not. We at theAsianparent, frequently hear from mums whose babies were saved because they counted kicks during pregnancy. Because of this, these mums were thus able to weed out any unusual developments (or lack thereof) in their baby’s movement patterns and were able to alert their healthcare providers in time.
Counting kicks during pregnancy: Why is it important?
It is every mother’s nightmare to have the pregnancy she laboured for months in advance to end in a tragedy.
Stillbirth is devastating and unexpected. But it can sometimes be prevented, and counting kicks, or monitoring fetal movements especially in your third trimester, is one way to ensure that you lower the risk of stillbirth.
According to Count the Kicks, a stillbirth prevention public health campaign established in the United States of America, the early success of the initiative’s efforts have already been spotted with stillbirth rates dropping nearly 32 percent in Iowa, the state in which it was first implemented. The campaign notes that approximately 24,000 babies are lost to stillbirth every year in the US. “Statistically, that means 1 out of every 167 pregnancies ends in stillbirth. For African American mums, that number is even more alarming – 1 in 94!”
According to reports, fifty per cent of mothers who have lost a baby to stillbirth in the third trimester reported that they noticed a gradual decline in foetal movement several days prior to the loss of the pregnancy. This indicates that many cases of stillbirth are not sudden and that you might be able to save your baby if you are aware of the warning signs and of what’s normal and what’s not with regard to your baby’s movements.
In fact, a change in your baby’s heartbeat is one of the last things to occur when a baby is in distress, whereas decreased movement is an early sign.
Monitoring your baby’s movements allows you to detect changes in usual patterns, indicating any potential problems before actual changes in the heart rate are detected. The time in between the detection of reduced patterns in movement and decreased heart rate, may well be the only time you have to save your baby.
The campaign further notes that if the outcome of decreased rates in stillbirth brought about through mothers counting their baby’s kicks and being aware of their movements to note any new changes indicating a potential threat, “is replicated in all 50 states (of the US), more than 7,500 babies will be saved every year!” The numbers thus naturally increase multiple folds, in a global context. Counting kicks during pregnancy and understanding their pattern which is unique to a baby, is a way of saving babies’ lives.
And one of those could be yours.
It is vital, therefore, for pregnant mothers to keep track and observe patterns that will be established through the course of their pregnancy.
Futhermore, in addition to helping prevent stillbirth, counting your baby’s kicks serves as a way to help you to bond with your baby.
This is your special time with your little unborn baby, reserved to focus on your baby’s movements and personality. You may take this one step ahead if you wish and further utilise this as an opportunity for family time, when you bring your partner and any other siblings into the midst to share this experience with you. This will enable them to improve their bond with the baby as well, strengthening family ties and establishing an early connection in between family members.
Counting kicks during pregnancy: how to keep track of your baby’s movements
Pregnant mothers are advised to begin counting kicks in the 28th week of their pregnancy, or at 26 weeks if you are high risk or pregnant with multiples.
Your pregnancy may be progressing along smoothly and without much complication, but even normal pregnancies can sometimes turn problematic, and usually active babies can also experience distress, sometimes quickly and without other warning signs.
A record of your baby’s movement every day will alert you if your normally active baby has slowed down, and you will have recorded data to show your ob-gyn regarding your concerns.
Here are some tips for you to make counting kicks during pregnancy easier:
- Make use of online resources and apps available to keep track of your baby’s movements in order to facilitate a digitised record that you are able to flip back to access, or show to your ob-gyn if the need arises. theAsianparent’s Kick Counter is one such resource.
- Start at the 28th week of your pregnancy, and count your baby’s movements every day, preferably at the same time.
- Every baby is different, and the time you pick should be when your baby is usually active and you notice an increase in movements.
- Your baby should have at least 10 movements within an hour.
- Sit comfortably, with your feet up or lie on your side to count each of your baby’s movements – these include kicks, rolls, pokes and jabs, but not hiccups as they count as an involuntary movement.
- Time yourself on how long it usually takes to get to ten movements.
- In most cases, it will take less than half an hour on average in order to record ten movements, but each baby is different.
- Regular monitoring of movements will enable you to soon form patterns and derive a sense of what’s normal for your baby (how long it takes your baby to get to ten movements), alerting you to call your doctor if you notice any changes.
- Be sure to count your baby’s movements every day without fail.
When to call your doctor?
While the word “normal” differs from baby to baby, and activity patterns are unique and different to every foetus, keeping track of your daily kick counting sessions will enable you with a sense of what your baby usually does.
Anything out of the ordinary should be considered as a potential problem and you should bring it to your doctor’s attention right away.
Notify your ob-gyn immediately if there have been:
- Any change in movement patterns (it starts to take longer than usual to record ten kicks).
- Any changes in the strength of your baby’s movements, that is if you notice the movements become weaker, or if you suddenly notice a wild surge in your baby’s movements. Both of these instances should be paid attention to, and taken to your doctor immediately. You should not wait until you note significant changes in your baby’s movement pattern, or note no sign of movement at all, to bring the matter to your doctor’s notice.
- Any feeling that something is “off” with regard to your baby’s movements. When in doubt, contact your doctor. Pay attention to that mummy-sense. It’s there for a reason, and it is usually right! As the adage goes, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Contrary to the popular belief that babies kick lesser towards the end of your pregnancy, you may experience a difference in movement with less sharp kicking and more rolling.
However, if you have been keeping track of movements at the same time each day, it should take about the same amount of time to feel 10 movements.
Remember mamas, anything out of the ordinary, anything different, even a “prickling” of that mummy-instinct and gut feeling, needs to be paid attention to. These could be vital signs that your baby is in distress and you could be one step away from saving your baby’s precious life.