Fetal Kick Counts
OUCH! Wait…was that…no, it couldn’t be…could it?!
The first time we feel a baby’s first little twinges is a whole new level of pregnancy. Suddenly the pregnancy became real! Before there may have been a bump brewing and breasts blossoming, but now little peanut is now making its presence known…and with force. Counting these movements are an important way to gauge how a baby is faring in the womb. Fetal kick counts are vital for monitoring a healthy pregnancy.
When You Can Expect to Feel Your Baby Move
With differences in individuals, many people will feel their baby’s first flutters of movements (or “quickening”) around 16 weeks pregnant. However, anywhere between 16-25 weeks are when the “flutters” become more recognizable as fetal movements and kicks. Subsequent pregnancies can feel the quickening often sooner than 16 weeks. It’s not uncommon for first time pregnancies to feel the flutters closer to 20+weeks. The subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) movements of the baby becomes a routine occurrence progressing in the pregnancy. These jibs and jabs of the baby are indications that the baby is developing in the womb. From hiccups to full feet and elbows rounding out the belly, get ready for a bumpy belly.
What is Fetal Kick Counting
Fetal kick counts is one way to monitor movements of a baby in gestation. This at-home non-invasive way to track a baby is helpful in knowing that a baby in the womb is viable. Fetal kick counts are one way to help prevent the instance of stillbirth. Stillbirth is the loss or demise of a baby before or during the birth. Stillbirths occur in 1 out of 160 births. On average around 24,000 babies a year in the US are stillborn. (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/stillbirth/facts.html)
When to Begin/How to do Fetal Kick Counts
Around 28 weeks gestation, conducting fetal kick counts become a part of the daily regime. Pick the time of the day when the baby is most active. Typically, this is during the end-of-the-day. Get comfortable by sitting or lying down on your left side and placing a hand on the abdomen. Begin counting every time the bun in the oven jumps, kicks, punches, or basically moves. This monitoring should look for 10 movements in a 2-hour period. Drinking a glass of juice may help a sleepy or inactive baby get moving.
When to Contact Your Provider
In the 3rd trimester, regular fetal movements are expected. What happens when a baby’s movement decreases? Call your provider! A decrease in movement is one of the indications that something may be going on with the baby. Another notation to make is the consistency of the movements from previous counts. A wide time lapse in- between kicks from previous days, should be noted and brought to the attention of one’s provider. Note that as a baby enters 37 weeks+ gestation, their movements may become less pronounced as room in the womb lessens. The force of the movement is not as vital as the number of movements are made during the kick count period.
A national organization, Count The Kicks, researched and created programs and resources for providers and families regarding the importance of fetal kick counts. Adding the routine of nightly fetal monitoring is not only beneficial for one’s growing baby, but also for providing a sense of peace in a worrisome pregnant person. Get to kicking baby, and don’t forget to monitor those movements Mama!