What is Kick Counting and is it important?

I was looking back through my blog and I don’t think I ever have told the story of how kick counting saved my baby’s life.

I don’t tell it to scare you.

I want to empower you so you can have a tool to know how your baby is doing.

I was on bedrest, starting at 25 weeks with my first son, Thing 1.  I had plenty of time to do kick counts.  This is when you keep track of how many kicks/movements (not including hiccups) you feel in an hour.  It typically takes less than an hour, because you stop tracking once you reach 10 kicks.  If you do it the same time every day, it gives you a pretty good idea of how active your baby tends to be at that time of day.  If you notice an drop in activity, it could be a signal that something may be up with your baby.

Even though I had plenty of time being on bedrest, I did a different idea one of my friends told me.  Each time you eat, count 3 distinct movements.  Once you have, you are done.  This was super easy, as babies are usually pretty active after you eat.  (I have never seen this anywhere else and it is not the correct way to do kick counts.)

At 34 weeks pregnant after 9 weeks of bedrest, I woke up and ate my breakfast.  After awhile (probably 30 min) I realized that

  • T1 hadn’t moved yet.
  • I drank some juice, still no movements
  • I put an ice pack on my tummy, no movements

I called the OB in a panic.  They told me to drink more juice and monitor for another hour.  (My intuition was saying something is WRONG and I wish I had pressed the issue and said, “NO, I am coming in NOW.” )  But I did what they said and there were still no movements.  I called back and they set up a non-stress test for me after lunch.

I was so scared, I thought that I had lost him.  My husband gave me a blessing and said that T1 would be be OK and that he would come when he was ready.  I felt better after the blessing, but we still got to the monitoring place early and then had to wait, because they were at lunch.

Once we got attached to all the monitors for the NST, I was so happy to hear T1’s heartbeat and I assumed all was well.  The nurse buzzed my tummy a few times because he was “sleeping”  I didn’t know then, but it was bad news that his heart rate didn’t change at all with the buzzer.  I had some pressure waves and his heart rate dropped with each one.  With both those things, they knew that he was under distress.

I was told to head over to the hospital ASAP and he was born, via emergency cesarean about 30 minutes after getting there.  (You can read his whole birth story here.)  (You can read more about why this was truly an emergency in the comment section.)

Being aware of my baby’s movements saved his life!

I am glad that I did my simple way of keeping track of his movements.

However, if I had been doing kick counts the official way, I may have noticed sooner that there was a decrease in movements and may have been able to had him sooner!

I found it interesting in researching kick counting that:

Significant changes in the fetal movement pattern may help identify potential problems with your pregnancy before the baby’s heart rate is affected

I had a mom on the Hypnobabies Yahoo Group who mentioned she was worried because her baby wasn’t as active as usual.  I suggested she contact her care provider and go in and get checked out.  She did and the baby looked fine.  The mom posted the next day with the update but said she was still worried and the baby was still not very active (unusual for her baby)  I suggest that she call her care provider and insist on being seen again.  I reminder her that her intuition was more powerful then their machines!   She did go back in that day and this time the monitors picked up the baby’s distress and her baby was born via cesarean that day.

Trust your intuition! This is the biggest thing I have learned in mothering.  It is a powerful tool we have and it can start in pregnancy.  Trust your baby too – he/she can communicate with you via their movements!

Tools for Kick Counting

BabyKick Kick Trak – This is a tool you can use to keep track of your baby’s kicks.  It also can be used to keep track of contractions.

There are also many Apps for different phones to do kick counting on.   I recently reviewed an Pregnancy Companion App that has Pregnancy Information as well as kick counter as one of it’s tools.   Or there are individual Kick Tracker Apps such as Nine Months or Baby Kicks

Or you can always use paper and pencil.  😉

I hope this post encourages you to take the time to pay attention to your baby’s movements every day!

Related Posts with ThumbnailsPin It

17 Comments

  1. Very interesting post. But I kept waiting to read the “what” part and never found it. “What” was the problem? How did the C-section save the baby (other than it causing it to be born)? If the section wasn’t done that day, what would’ve happened to the baby and why?

    EnjoyBirth Reply:

    I guess I left that out because it is scary. Since you asked:

    They are not sure what the problem was, the cord was tightly wrapped around his neck two times. So it is thought that is what was causing the distress.

    If a baby’s heart rate is completely non-reactive (not changing at all) that is a sign the baby is distressed add the dropping with pressure waves that is pretty much saying that the baby is in extreme distress. It is thought that he most likely he would have died if the section was not done that day.

    He does have some lasting effects of the lack of oxygen. So it was an emergency situation.

  2. Pingback: Labor Day Birth Advice and Stories Blog Carnival «

  3. Pingback: Premie Development

  4. We were so glad to find your post about kick counting and wanted to share some information about our nonprofit organization, Healthy Birth Day (www.healthybirthday.org) and our Count the Kicks Campaign (www.countthekicks.org). With stillbirth occurring in 1 in every 150 pregnancies in the United States, it is so important to teach expectant parents to monitor fetal movement. Recent research has shown that this free, simple practice may reduce the stillbirth rate by up to 1/3.

    Thanks for sharing this important info with your followers! Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help support your efforts!

  5. I have never met you and I don’t even remember why or how I stumbled across this post early last fall, but thank you for sharing your story. After 3 miscarriages, 4 chemical pregnancies, a surgery for endometriosis, 8 years of trying and a rough pregnancy with my firstborn, I found myself pregnant again in 2011. At 39 weeks pregnant in November, I noticed my daughter was not moving. I remembered your story and stopped to do kick counts. After an hour there was still no movement. I called the doctor who told me to come in immediately. After several hours of monitoring, my daughter still wasn’t moving. An ultrasound revealed amniotic fluid was very low putting her oxygen supply at risk. We had an emergency c-section and now have a beautiful healthy daughter. Thanks for helping me know to not discount her lack of movement as something trivial!

    EnjoyBirth Reply:

    I am so glad that hearing my story alerted you to take action when you noticed your baby wasn’t moving! I am glad that she is healthy and all is well. Hugs!

  6. Kick counts saved my daughter too. I lost my son at 31 weeks in 2007 due to unknown causes. I began doing kick counts at 28 weeks when pregnant with my daughter. Because I was high risk, I had just had an ultrasound at 27w6d and and NST at 28w1d and, according to those tests, she was fine. At 28w3d, I sat down to do my kick counts and got just 1 kick in the hour. I called my doctor and went to labor & delivery. Long story short, she was born by emergency c-sec that day after it was determined that she was in distress. Turned out that I had a silent placental abruption and, like your son, I was told that had we not delivered her, she too would have passed away in a few hours. Kick counts matter. I’m doing them as I type this – 31 weeks pregnant!

  7. Rachelle

    Kick counts are so important… and paying attention to changes in the rate of movement especially so. I lost my daughter at 36 weeks. While I was doing kick counts, I was misinformed that as long as I got 10 kicks in 2 hrs, it was ok, even though she dropped from 10 kicks in about 10 minutes on average to 10 kicks in over an hour. I was told not to worry about it, that babies slow down around 36 weeks. I wish I’d known then what I know now. I had no idea stillbirth was so common, or that it affected healthy mothers with otherwise normal pregnancies. I’m 26 weeks pregnant again, and getting a head start on tracking my kick counts. This time I’ll aggressively pursue investigative care if there’s any significant deviation from my baby’s pattern. Thank you for helping to spread the word on the importance of kick counts.

    EnjoyBirth Reply:

    I am so sorry for your loss and that you were not listened to when you expressed your concerns about the drop in movement. I have heard of others who have been told, babies slow down around X weeks. They may have less room to move so their movements feel different, but they still move as much.

    HUGS!!
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  8. What are the lasting effects of the oxygen deprivation on your son? Because from my understanding, if a baby would have otherwise died from a cord accident if not taken out by immediate c-section, it will have brain damage or cerebral palsy? why does not one mention that?

    EnjoyBirth Reply:

    My son does have mild cerebral palsy, left hemiplegia. He had developmental delays as a young child and I can notice that he has a slight limp now. BUT, he is very smart and can do ANYTHING. It is actually amazing to me what all he does. He became an Eagle Scout at 14 and hikes and mountain bikes and is into survival type things. So there can be long lasting effects from the lack of oxygen.

  9. And is this article meant to make those of us feel bad who lost babies due to cord accidents, who didn’t get to the hospital in time or realize there was a problem? You have no way of knowing your baby would have died, and doctors do not educate us on kick counting. I feel if it could “save” babies as you say, it would be plastered all over baby books and doctors offices and it would be the first thing they would tell us as we enter the 3rd trimester. You have to be careful what you say. And I’m sorry, but I bet you are going to tell me that there is something wrong with your son, but maybe out of pride you will deny it.

    EnjoyBirth Reply:

    I do not mean to make anyone feel bad!!! I know there are certainly times when nothing could be done to prevent a loss.

    BUT, there have been many moms who have contacted me thanking me for sharing my story, because they then knew to pay attention and their babies were saved. It is that important that it SHOULD be plastered all over baby books and doctors offices. But it isn’t, I am not sure why.

    I am very sorry if you suffered a loss, my heart goes out to you. I have a dear friend who had a stillborn baby when T1 was 6 years old. She had called me to say she noticed the baby was not moving as much. It was too late by the time she went in. T1 said to me, “Why didn’t you warn her? Why didn’t you tell her sooner?”

    I heard his message and I just want to let people know about the importance so that it may help prevent others from suffering such a loss.

  10. I am 32wks I have been in and out of the hospital since I was 29wks with contractions. Which they have subsided for the most part. Then at 30 weeks they noticed my fluid was low. It went from 8cm to 6cm in about 10 days then today it was back to 8cm. My “lil” guy is just that, very little. Everything is measuring smaller than it should be. 3 days ago he became less active as he has always been. I did my NST on Tuesday and the dr said he was still happy with the results (after having to drink cold water to get him to move a lil more). Then during my test the contractions started again. They sent me to the hospital to be observed. He calmed down and the contractions stopped. I go today for my biographical ultrasound. Heart rate, all organs look good. In the 30 mins they have to do the movement they are looking for he barely moved one hand and one leg. I started to panic and was getting very nauseous. After having to sit up and move around and take a little break. He finally started to move a little in the last 2 mins of the test. They said everything is good. But I am very nervous and worried. Not sure if I should leave it at what they say or what to do about it. I’m tired of going to the hospital then being sent home. I almost feel like one of those paranoid moms. But clearly I have issues going on. Just not sure how far to push it.

    EnjoyBirth Reply:

    I read your comment on my blog. I am glad that you are getting your non-stress tests, etc.

    I think that it is a challenging balance, you don’t want to be fearful and make decisions based on fear, but you also want to be aware and trust your intuition as well.

    Have you talked to your care provider about your concerns?

    I think I would be really upfront with your concerns.

    Here are some links I have about worries/fears and how to manage them. http://www.enjoybirth.com/kno-worry.html

    It is a balance, but I think in the end your intuition trumps the doctors.

    Good luck, I know it can be a stressful time. I hope that you find peace and the support you need. Never hesitate to call your care provider if you are concerned. That is why you hired them. 🙂

Pin It