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Paying attention to a fetus’s movements in utero has been linked with a decrease in stillbirth. Numerous studies in different countries have been conducted and show there are benefits from monitoring and charting babies’ kicks beginning in the 28th week of pregnancy. Counting the kicks, and watching for decreased movement in the baby can help prevent stillborn births and other medical conditions.
Counting the kicks should be a source of reassurance for the mother as opposed to a cause of anxiety. Most women who see a decrease in movement will still have a healthy outcome. The biggest concerns come when the decrease in movement happen repeatedly.
How to Do a Kick Count
- Pick a time of day when your baby is most active, usually after you’ve had a snack or light meal.
- Once you’re sure she’s awake, sit with your feet up or lie on your side and start counting movements. Twists, turns, swishes, rolls and jabs also count as “kicks.” Hiccups do not.
- Log the number of minutes it takes to count 10 movements.
Doing a kick count generally takes 10 to 15 minutes, but it might take as long as two hours. Counting the kicks may not always be easy and various factors can help, or hinder, the mother’s ability to feel movement. Remember that the sensations won’t be as sharp and noticeable as your pregnancy progresses and the baby has less room to move around.
Worried When Counting Kicks? Here’s What to Do
You should generally be able to count at least 10 kicks within 2 hours. If you haven’t counted 10 within 2 hours, you should contact your doctor. A non-stress test can be performed to check the baby’s heart rate. This will help to rule out life-threatening emergencies, but may not show the underlying reason for decreased movement.
An ultrasound could offer further explanation, but that is done only about 20 percent of the time in the United States, so you may have to be proactive in asking for one. If the non-stress test comes back normal, continue charting the kicks daily. You should contact your doctor if you feel the baby has decreased in movement or to address other concerns.
Also, be aware that if the idea of charting kicks makes you anxious, studies have shown that simply paying attention to your baby’s movements in utero and reporting potential problems to your doctor or midwife can also reduce the possibility of stillbirth.