Movement Matters: Why Counting Kicks is Important

counting kicks

Counting kicks (and jabs and rolls) is important — not only so mom can spend time focusing on her soon-to-be newborn, but also because a change in movement in the third trimester is often the earliest sign of distress in a baby. Here’s what pregnant moms need to know.  

When you’re expecting, what’s more fun and exciting than feeling your baby move? While it can be a bonding time between mom and baby, it’s also one of the most important things you can do that will help you keep track of how your baby is doing.

Many doctors recommend kick-counting staring with the third trimester (28 weeks) to help prevent stillbirth, which is a subject that is hard but necessary to talk about.

Nevada has the twelfth highest stillbirth rate in the country, with residents losing 233 babies a year to stillbirth. Within those statistics, racial disparities paint a more startling picture. African American women experience stillbirth at twice the rate of the general pregnant population. Native American and Asian women, and mothers of Hispanic ethnicity, all have elevated rates of stillbirth as well. Parents of all races are 10 times more likely to lose their baby to stillbirth than they are to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), yet little prenatal education is dedicated to what can be done to prevent stillbirth.

RELATED:  Do You Fear Childbirth? You’re Not Alone.

Scientific studies indicate counting kicks and keeping a daily record of a baby’s movements (kicks, rolls, punches, jabs) during the third trimester, is an easy, free and reliable way to monitor a baby’s well-being in addition to regular prenatal visits.

Counting Kicks, Explained

When you start your third trimester, it’s time to start counting. Here’s how you do it:

  • Count the kicks (or jabs or rolls or movements) every day, preferably at the same time.
  • Pick your time based on when your baby is usually active.
  • To get started, sit with your feet up or lie on your side. Count each of your baby’s movements as one kick until you reach 10 movements. After a few days you will begin to see a pattern for your baby (how long it takes you to get to 10).
  • Most of the time it will take less than half an hour, but it could take as long as two hours.
  • Knowing what is a normal movement pattern for your baby is key. When “normal” changes, this could be a sign of potential problems and an indication to call your provider.
  • Call your doctor or midwife if it takes longer than two hours to count 10 kicks; a non-stress test should be performed to check the baby’s heart rate.

Don’t forget!

  • Every pregnancy and every baby is different.
  • The most important thing is to count kicks daily. This way you know what is “normal” for your baby. For example, if you normally count 10 movements within 30 minutes and then you notice that it is taking two hours to record 10 movements, that is a change in your baby’s movement pattern and an indicator to call your provider.
  • Babies don’t “run out of room,” and they do not slow down at the end of pregnancy. While they may run out of room for somersaults, they will continue to move all the way up to and during labor.
  • Your kick counting history can be useful for visits with your provider.
  • If you notice a change in what is normal for your baby, contact your provider immediately. Your provider will want to hear from you with any concerns during your pregnancy. Trust your instincts! 

Remember: Counting kicks (and jabs and rolls!) is important — not only so you can focus on your soon-to-be newborn, but also 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 alert to potential red flags.  

And of course: There’s an app for that! Go here to download a kick-counter app.

Having a Baby at Renown

Renown’s Labor & Delivery department has the skill, expertise and technology along with a caring and friendly environment to make your birth experience the best it can be. Pre-register for childbirth, take a virtual tour, explore the department and baby/family suites at the link below. Learn More