Is Counting Kicks Critical to Saving Baby’s Life?



It is hard enough to have to live with the loss of a child or pregnancy, but it is even worse when you have to live with the daily guilt of knowing you could have saved the baby’s life…if only you had paid a little more attention to baby’s activities.

Sarah has lived with that guilt daily for the past six months, since she lost her child while she was 34 weeks pregnant. Before the day that her worst fear was confirmed, she had noticed that her baby moved less, and she put it down to the fact that babies tend to move less as they get to the end of term, due to there being less room to adjust.

There were certain things she did, which often roused her baby, like drinking cold water, which her baby seemed to like. Lying on her back was another part that her baby liked, as she could see the undulation of her bump as baby moved.  And anytime she placed anything on her bump, her baby was sure to kick, but for two days, it didn’t seem to react to these things as sharply as it used to, and then it didn’t react at all.

When she mentioned it to her husband and mother, they had different reasons for the baby’s kicks not being as sharp as before, so she tried to relax and get it off her mind, but there was a niggling feeling in her head.

Sarah eventually went to see her doctor, and the verdict was that her baby had stopped breathing. It was a major shock. She felt it was something that happened to people in the past, but this was the 21st century, in 2017 for that matter, and she was suffering from a still birth.

That child, if it had been born alive, would have been her second child and completion of her family, but there she was, birthing her child still. It was a traumatic experience, and the line of the questioning of the doctor, along with the admonition that she should have come earlier to the clinic, made her feel as though she didn’t do enough to help her baby survive.

Everyone has tried to help Sarah move past this stage, but she’s still stuck on her guilt trip and mourning her loss. Not a nice place to be, but a phase she has to go through. One can only wish she gets over this phase quickly, and starts to live again.

So, would counting the baby’s kicks have made any difference in the survival of Sarah’s baby? Science says yes, as it has been shown that being attentive to baby’s movements will help a pregnant woman notice any significant changes in the activity of her baby. It has also been linked to the prevention of stillbirths.

Although the thought of the need to count your baby’s kicks may bring on some anxiety, it is a lot more reassuring than anxiety-inducing. Which is why doctors recommend that starting 28 weeks (and sometimes, 27 weeks), pregnant women should endeavour to be tracking their baby’s kicks, swishes, rolls, and jabs. While the prevention of still birth is the main aim, it may help identify potential problems.

Though strongly recommended for high-risk pregnancies, counting foetal movements beginning at 28 weeks may be beneficial for all pregnancies.

Comfortingly, most women who notice a decrease in movement will still have a healthy baby, so it is not always a case of decreased movement leads to challenges in baby’s health.

However, it is important to have cases of decreased foetal activity checked out.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you time how long it takes you to feel 10 kicks, flutters, swishes, or rolls. Ideally, you should feel at least 10 movements within 2 hours, but the truth is, you will likely feel 10 movements in less time than that.


How to count baby’s kicks

Pick a time of day when your baby is most active, usually after you’ve had a snack or light meal. Most moms also find that their babies are most active after drinking something very cold, or after physical activity. You may also find your baby to be more active between 9:00 pm and 1:00 am, as your blood sugar level is declining.

Once you’re sure it’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 into the chart below.

You can start on the day of the week closest to your current week of pregnancy (weeks of gestation) and take it from there.


Daily Kick Counts by Week of Pregnancy
Days 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42


Plus size pregnant women may have a harder time perceiving kicks.  

It is also important to have at the back of your mind that the sensations won’t be as sharp and noticeable as your pregnancy progresses, and the baby has less room to move around.

Lots of the times, medical doctors don’t want to share the risk of still births with pregnant women, because they don’t want to scare them, but it is important that women are armed with as much information as possible.

Afterall…knowledge is power.




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