Kick Counts — Fetal Movement

This is a very important subject, because many women who have had children stillborn reported a decrease in movement a few days prior to fetal death. Recognizing that your baby is not moving enough may save his or her life. If, for some reason, the placenta is not functioning properly, or if the umbilical cord is knotted, or if the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck, then the baby may not be getting enough oxygen.

One of the natural mechanisms that the body has to keep itself alive, is to divert blood from less necessary parts (arms, legs, etc.) to the vital parts (heart, brain, etc.). We see this in adults who experience trauma or shock. So, when there’s a diminished supply of oxygen, the baby will typically move less — conserving energy as well as keeping the brain more fully supplied with oxygen.

Towards the end of your pregnancy, the baby may not kick quite as hard, or move more gently (less room inside for him or her to move), but there should not be a significant decrease in movement. Doing a “kick count” every day will help you to recognize if your baby is moving less. This isn’t to scare you — the stillbirth rate is low — but losing a baby at the end of pregnancy may possibly be able to be avoided by a little vigilance on your part. You can take the approach of bonding with your baby, and just concentrating on his/her movements, and feeling the connection you have with him/her while s/he’s still inside you.

Here is a great website that has a lot of information about doing kick-counts, and also about stillbirths in general. I hope that you will never need this information. Just as you will take every precaution to preserve your baby’s life and health after birth — always using a car seat while driving, making sure a blanket is not over his face while he’s asleep, double-checking medication dosages before giving him anything — so you can take this small precaution to help preserve your baby’s life and health before birth.

My husband’s best friend and his wife lost their baby to cord strangulation almost three years ago. She noticed a decrease in movements, but thought it was just the normal change in movements that happens before birth. Then she noticed no movement. On her due date. She is still afraid, almost three years later, to get pregnant again — afraid of going through the heart-wrenching loss of another child prenatally. Many causes of stillbirth are unknown — sometimes because an autopsy wasn’t done, other times an autopsy was done but there was no explanation for the fetal demise. Doing a kick count can’t completely eliminate stillbirth, but if it can prevent even one death, it’s worth it.


3 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this with expecting moms. It is some thing so easy to do and so important! It saved my sweet boys life when I noticed he wasn’t moving and went in. Someone had told me another easy way to keep track was each time you eat a meal, count 3 movements. If you don’t notice them within 10-15 minutes, then drink juice and pay closer attention. Mark down the movements, if less than 10 good distinct movements in an hour, call your OB!

    Also, above all trust your intuition. That is more powerful than anything!

  2. […] although I think the mom felt less movement leading up to the death but thought it was normal. It wasn’t. She was under the care of an obstetrician, planning a hospital birth — you can’t blame […]

  3. […] 19, 2012 in Intuition, Motherhood, Pregnancy, Sheridan What is Kick Counting and is it […]

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