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Every Kick Counts

Understand your baby’s movement and be confident.

Kicks Count is a UK charity that is raising awareness of the importance of baby’s movements in pregnancy.  A baby’s movements indicate its wellbeing so it is important mums report any change in their baby’s movements as it can be a sign the baby is in distress. 

Over the years there has been some confusion around what is expected when it comes to baby’s movements as multiple organisations were giving different advice. Kicks Count have joined forces with organisations such as the NHS, Department of Health, Bounty, and other pregnancy charities to ensure all are giving the same information. 

We have therefore asked Elizabeth Hutton, CEO of Kicks Count what is the correct advice around baby’s movements.

When should I start to feel movement? 

Most women usually begin to feel their baby move between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. A baby’s movements can be described as anything from a kick, flutter, swish or roll. The type of movement may change as your pregnancy progresses. 

How often should my baby move? 

There is no set number of normal movements. Your baby will have their own pattern of movements that you should get to know. From 16 - 24 weeks on you should feel the baby move more and more up until 32 weeks then stay roughly the same until you give birth. 

What shall I do if I notice reduced movement? 

If you think your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped, contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately (it is staffed 24 hours, 7 days a week). Do not put off calling until the next day to see what happens. 

Do not worry about phoning, it is important for your doctors and midwives to know if your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped. 

Do not use any hand-held monitors, dopplers, or phone apps to check your baby’s heartbeat. Even if you detect a heartbeat, this does not mean your baby is well. 

What if my baby’s movements are reduced again? 

If, after your check up, you are still not happy with your baby’s movements, you must contact either your midwife or maternity unit straight away, even if everything was normal last time. Never hesitate to contact your midwife or the maternity unit for advice, no matter how many times this happens.  

Why are my baby’s movements important? 

A reduction in a baby’s movements can sometimes be an important warning sign that a baby is unwell. Two out of three women who had a stillbirth noticed their baby’s movements had slowed down or stopped.  

Is there anything I can use to help me keep track of my baby’s movements? 

The most important thing is you are aware of them, but if you would like help to keep track Kicks Count do wristbands and a mobile App. 

Tell us about your wristband

The Kick Count wristband has won Gold and Consumer choice in the Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards in the Health and Well Being - Pregnancy category. The wristband has a plastic slider that can be moved along each time the mum feels a session of movement to help her get to know what is normal for her baby. You can use the code GOLD at www.kickscount.org.uk/shop to receive 10% off a kicks count wristband (exp. 30.9.2018)

What does the App do? 

The free Kicks Count App allows users to keep track of their baby’s movements on their smart phone. It is currently the only fetal movement monitoring app that doesn’t stop at 10 kicks, and instead allows users to identify their baby’s individual pattern. It also allows users to contact their midwife direct from the app if they have any concerns about their baby’s wellbeing. To download the app for free search KICKSCOUNT in the App Store or Play Store. 

Some mums may be tempted to purchase devices that claim to listen to their baby’s heartbeat. Kicks Count, along with other professional bodies strongly advise against
their use. 

Why shouldn’t I use a home doppler?  

A Doppler is a device that sends out high-frequency sound waves that pass through the skin and tissue and into the abdomen. When the waves encounter movement, such as a baby’s heart beating, they bounce back to the device. The device then translates the movement into sound. The problem is that anything that moves inside the abdomen (whether it’s the baby kicking, air moving in your intestines, the placenta, or blood flowing in the mum’s arteries) is also translated into sound.

It takes lots of training and practice to distinguish a baby’s heartbeat from the other sounds. And even if a heartbeat is correctly identified that does not mean the baby is well.

The devices are marketed as a reassurance tool. However if a mum notices a change in her baby’s movements the baby may be in distress. (The majority of mums who had a stillbirth noticed a change in their baby’s movements prior to the diagnosis)

By using a doppler for reassurance, the mum may delay seeking medical attention which could be fatal for the baby.

These devices are not intended to be used by pregnant women. They are prescription devices and require training to operate correctly. Even the instructions on these products (although marketed towards mums) state “It is intended to be used by care professionals, including practical nurses, midwives, relative technicians and physician assistants”

The safety of the Doppler ultrasound devices is stressed in product descriptions, in that they do no harm to the baby but the risks of delaying seeking medical attention and the limitations of the Doppler devices tend to be overlooked

What to do if you’re concerned about baby’s  movements

As seen above, many people are using the Doppler for ‘reassurance’ however the most significant risk is that even if identifying a fetal heart correctly, the baby could still be in distress. This could lead to life threatening delays in seeking medical assistance. The best indicator of fetal wellbeing is always baby’s movements. 

If you saw a person collapsed in the street would you check their pulse and walk away? No, you’d probably call an ambulance because this person is clearly unwell, even though they have a heartbeat. It is the same with a baby. If a baby’s movements change, it can be a sign that they are unwell. Just because they have a heartbeat does not mean anything. Everyone has a heartbeat up until the second before they pass away. All a heartbeat tells you is the baby is currently alive, which is the only time something can be done to help a baby in distress. If you wait until you can’t find a heartbeat it’s too late. 

What does Kicks Count hope to acheive?

Kicks Count would like to empower more mums to be to trust their instincts and get to know their baby’s regular pattern of movement. 

Where can we find out more?
Visit www.kickscount.org.uk.
Find them on Facebook and Twitter

Kicks Count

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