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How to Count Your Baby’s Kicks – S1 E13

For pregnant moms, feeling those first kicks, flutters, and movements of your baby can be an exciting pregnancy milestone! Those movements also are key indicators of your baby’s health. Abnormal patterns of movement can signal a health risk, so counting the kicks of your baby can help you understand what’s normal and when to be concerned.

Emily Price, executive director of Healthy Birth Day Inc., joins host Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez to share how counting kicks can prevent stillbirths. Plus, they tell you how to make counting kicks an easy and fun part of your daily routine!

Podcast Resources:
Count the Kicks
Eliminating Racial Disparities in Stillbirth
Guest: Emily Price
Strong Families AZ
Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez
Podcast Credits:

host Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Program Director for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

host Guest: Emily Price is a mother and the Executive Director of Healthy Birth Day Inc. based in Des Moines, Iowa.


[00:00:00] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:00:00] Welcome back to The Parenting Brief I’m your host, Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez, an Arizona working mom and Program Director for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Being a mom is my absolute favorite job, but at times it can be really hard.

[00:00:24] That’s why we created The Parenting Brief to give you tools, expert advice, and [00:00:30] resources to save you time and your sanity, trying to figure out how to be the best parent you can be.

[00:00:44] We’re so glad you’re here for another episode of The Parenting Brief. During this episode, we are going to be discussing the importance of monitoring fetal movement during the third trimester as a strategy for decreasing the risk of a stillbirth. Typically, I don’t start off the [00:01:00] episodes with a direct statement of the topic, but I wanted to make sure that going into this episode, you knew what we were going to be talking about.

[00:01:07] One out of every 167 pregnancies end in stillbirth in the U.S., and that rate is two times higher for black expectant parents. Talking about fetal death can be triggering for many. While I hope that you stay and listen to the information that we have to share with you today, it’s also okay if you wanted to start out with the show now. Check out the links and information provided

[00:01:29] so [00:01:30] you can learn more about the Count the Kicks campaign to reduce stillbirth, and then come back and listen to the episode to have some of your questions answered. So up next, we have tips on how to track your baby’s kicks, how to assess what’s normal and when to seek medical advice and some awesome resources to help you along this pregnancy journey.

[00:01:54] Joining us on this episode is Emily Price, the executive director of Healthy Birthday Inc., [00:02:00] the organization behind the Count the Kicks campaign. Emily, we’re so glad you’re able to join us today.

[00:02:06] Emily Price: [00:02:06] Thank you so much for having me.

[00:02:08] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:02:08] There is so much information out there about what is and isn’t normal during pregnancy.

[00:02:13] So let’s just start off with this. At what point during pregnancy should a pregnant person start feeling those first flutters and kicks.

[00:02:22] Emily Price: [00:02:22] Typically anywhere between 16- and 20-weeks expectant mamas will feel those first flutters and kicks. It’s different for [00:02:30] every woman and of course, if you have an anterior placenta, it’s a little bit more difficult to feel those flutters and kicks as well.

[00:02:37] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:02:37] So these movements can be a really weird sensation and they can be distracting or even annoying at times, especially if you’re trying to sleep. So, can you talk about that connection between those movements and a baby’s health and why it’s important to notice the baby’s movement pattern?

[00:02:54] Emily Price: [00:02:54] That’s a great question.

[00:02:55] So research shows, this is all based on evidence that it changed and what’s [00:03:00] normal for your baby. It changed in their movement. Pattern is an indication that there may be something wrong with the pregnancy and that both mom and baby need evaluation by their provider. Count the Kicks, which is our public health program,

[00:03:11] is leading the way in stillbirth prevention efforts by giving expectant parents an early warning system, the knowledge, the tools to pay attention to your baby’s movement so you can speak up if you notice a change. And this is the way we like to kind of, it’s a bit of a metaphor, I guess, as adults, if you and I don’t feel well, Jessica,

[00:03:30] [00:03:29] we want to lay in bed, we went to lay on the couch. We’re going to move differently if we’re sick as adults. It’s the same thing for babies in the third trimester. If they’re not doing well, their movement is going to change. And the things that can cause a change of movement could be anything from an infection

[00:03:46] the baby has developed in utero and infection that mom may have developed, ambilocal cord issues, placenta issues, any of those things could lead to a change in movement for your baby. And to be clear, a change in movement, [00:04:00] doesn’t always mean something is wrong. It does mean you need to go get checked out and let your provider take it from there.

[00:04:05] Let them investigate. Let them run the non-stress test. Perform an ultrasound. Get to know what’s happening with your baby. And let them decide if there needs to be an intervention or if you need to be on bed rest or something like that.

[00:04:18] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:04:18] Is there a typical pattern that kind of follows that fetal movement or is everybody different?

[00:04:24] Is every baby different and what type of patterns or how long do you track in order to figure out what [00:04:30] that pattern is?

[00:04:31] Emily Price: [00:04:31] Every single baby is different, and every pregnancy is different. My babies were totally different. So, my son was super active. On average it took my son, you know, five, 10 minutes to get to 10 movements each day.

[00:04:45] That’s what you’re looking for during your kick counting session is how long it takes your baby to get to 10 movements each day and getting to know what’s normal for your baby. So, if my son on average took five to 10 minutes each day in the third trimester to get to 10 movements, it’s [00:05:00] going to be a big red flag for me

[00:05:01] if all of a sudden that baby, my son, takes an hour to get to 10 movements and I need to call my provider. But my daughter was different. It took her quite a bit longer to get to 10 movements. And so, an hour would not have been a huge deal for her. And so that’s why you need to know with each pregnancy, with each baby, what their specific normal is.

[00:05:21] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:05:21] When you’re talking about finding that pattern, when should that pattern be determined when you’re starting those, you know, how long does it take to [00:05:30] get to the 10 movements? When should that be happening?

[00:05:34] Emily Price: [00:05:34] When your baby is most active is a great time to count. For many babies that’s in the evenings. So, say you’ve been busy all day walking around or working,

[00:05:44] and then at night you finally have a chance to sit down and rest, that tends to be when babies start to move more and there’s even been research that healthy babies happen to move more at night in the evening. And so, for a lot of moms, they do tend to track and count their baby’s movements before [00:06:00] bedtime, kind of after they’ve had dinner, they’re finally able to relax and focus that is a popular time.

[00:06:05] But if your baby happens to be active in the morning, I would suggest counting in the morning. So basically, whenever your baby is active is the best time for you to count.

[00:06:14] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:06:14] And we know that unfortunately, even in the best of efforts and circumstances, that tragedy definitely, you know, can still happen. And this is really just a tool to use as an intervention in the event that something could be wrong.

[00:06:29] It [00:06:30] certainly isn’t a full-proof method, but do you have any information or statistics in regard to what the benefit is of doing this, of counting the kicks and movements? I know it’s count the kicks, but you know, counting those fetal movements and the preventative measure to that, that connection?

[00:06:50] Emily Price: [00:06:50] Yes, absolutely. And so, this is a stillbirth prevention effort. This is a stillbirth prevention campaign, and we know that not every baby can be saved from stillbirth. [00:07:00] There are simply some things that can happen in utero or with a pregnancy that cannot be prevented. And so let there be no guilt factor whatsoever for any mom or dad who has lost a baby to stillbirth.

[00:07:13] There are too many things out of our control in pregnancy. What we do know and do believe and there’s lots of evidence behind this, we believe about one third of stillbirths can be prevented. Here in America, one out of every 167 pregnancies end in [00:07:30] stillbirth. And so, we have a method that is evidence-based it’s specifically based on research out of Norway that saw a 30% reduction in Norway by simply educating expectant parents to pay attention to movement and feel movement in the third trimester

[00:07:44] and to speak up if you notice a change.

[00:07:47] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:07:47] Can you also explain, and I don’t know if this is in your realm of expertise, but we are talking about tracking in the third trimester, we’re talking about stillbirth, the data that you provided of that [00:08:00] one in every 167, can you explain a little bit the difference between a miscarriage and a stillbirth and what those numbers really represent

[00:08:09] when we’re talking about one out of 167?

[00:08:13] Emily Price: [00:08:13] That’s a great question that most people don’t understand, even some experts don’t even know the difference and so that’s a great question. Miscarriage in this country is defined as the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks of pregnancy and stillbirth is defined as the [00:08:30] loss of a pregnancy 20 weeks or greater.

[00:08:33] And so when I say one out of every 167 pregnancies ends in still that does not account for miscarriages. The statistic for miscarriages, that is that one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. So, your chances of having a stillbirth are less than your chance of having a miscarriage, but it is still not a great statistic in this country

[00:08:53] that one out of every 167 pregnancies end in stillbirth. We’re one of the worst industrialized countries [00:09:00] for stillbirth and birth outcomes, and for Black women, it’s even worse. It’s one in 96 pregnancies in this country ends in stillbirth for Black women. And that is completely unacceptable the disparities that persist in birth outcomes in this country.

[00:09:15] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:09:15] Oh, for sure. And that we can go on that topic for a whole another episode if, if we wanted and needed to. Well, thank you, Emily, for speaking with us today and for sharing this very important and helpful advice.

[00:09:30] [00:09:30] Emily Price: [00:09:30] Thank you so much for the opportunity, Jessica. We appreciate it

[00:09:40] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:09:40] For more information on Count the Kicks, head to the links in the show notes. And don’t forget to follow The Parenting Brief on your favorite podcast app. You’ll get the latest episodes delivered straight to your phone for free. You can also pass along this episode to the expecting parents in your life by sharing the episode on social media. Until next time,

[00:10:00] [00:10:00] this is Jessica. You’ve got this, Mom.

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