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Why Is It Important To Count Kicks During Pregnancy?

Dr. Madeeha Rashid

3 min read

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During pregnancy, one of the most exciting things for the mother is to feel her baby kick; it is a sign that the baby is growing safely inside the womb. Additionally, it may be important to count kicks during pregnancy.

However, kicking is not the first movement that the baby shows; prior to kicking, there is bending of the neck during the first trimester at 7 weeks.

After the neck movement, they start moving other parts, and finally at 18 to 25 weeks into pregnancy, the baby starts kicking. For first-time mothers, the baby may start kicking closer to 25 weeks, while for second or third-time moms, it occurs closer to 18 weeks. 

Paying attention to the baby’s movements is important because there is a link between the fetus’s movements in utero and the rate of stillbirth. Mothers who pay attention to the baby’s kicks in pregnancy can help prevent complications like stillbirth.

According to OB-GYN Ruth Fretts, M.D., assistant professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, mothers who notice the decrease in the movement of their baby is more likely to have a healthy outcome, compared to those who do not notice a change. Infact, counting kicks in pregnancy is one of the most effective ways to prevent stillbirth. 

How to count kicks

Initially, after the kicking starts, the mother may be unsure of what she’s feeling. For the first few weeks, it may be difficult to distinguish between gas and the real thing. However, soon a pattern emerges and the mother can tell apart when the baby is kicking. She will also learn the baby’s sleeping and waking cycles, and the time when the baby is most active. Being attentive to the baby’s movements will then help to notice any significant changes.  

To count the baby’s kicks, pick a time when the baby is most active; it may be in the afternoon, or after a light meal. Setting aside time every day when the baby is active enough to kick and swish may help in identifying potential problems. 

To record the baby’s movements the following steps should be followed. Once you are sure that the baby is awake and kicking, sit comfortably with the feet up; you can even lie down on your side to count the movements. Once you are comfortable, start counting the movements. Every single movement should be counted—kicks, jabs, rolls, but not hiccups. Most of the time, a count of ten movements takes about a half-hour. 

For overweight women, the kicks can be harder to perceive and will become less noticeable as the pregnancy progresses. This is because there is less room in the womb for the baby to move. You can even use an app to document the baby’s movements and save it to view history. Kick-counter history can be useful for your healthcare provider.

If ten of the baby’s movements take more than two hours, then you should discuss it with your doctor. It is not exactly a life-threatening situation, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful. Any sharp decline in the baby’s movements should also be discussed with the doctor. 

Why is it important to notice the baby’s movements?

According to First Candle, a non-profit group to help prevent SIDS, women should monitor and chart their babies’ kicks especially in the 28th week of pregnancy. Instead of being anxious, mothers would rather find them themselves reassured if they monitor their babies’ movements. A decrease in the baby’s movement does not necessarily mean that the child is in danger.

Most women who notice a decrease in the baby’s movements still have a healthy outcome. However, when it happens repeatedly, then it is a cause of concern. 

As mentioned before, if it takes two hours to count ten kicks of the baby, then it is better to reach out to the healthcare provider. In such a scenario, a non-stress test should be performed to check the heart rate of the baby.

According to Dr. Ruth Fretts, the non-stress test helps to rule out a life-threatening emergency, however, it should be followed by an ultrasound to address the reason for decreased movement. While ultrasound is done on fixed weeks on routine visits, in case you notice decreased movements, then you have to actively ask for one. 

If the non-stress test comes back normal, then continue to chart the movements. Each time you think you have a problem, you should be evaluated. 

Why is decreased movement a sign of trouble?

The fetus moves freely in the amniotic fluid inside the uterus. Decreased movement in the amniotic sac can indicate that there is less fluid for the fetus to move, or there is a ruptured amniotic sac. Therefore, it is crucial to keep a record of the child’s movements. If recording the baby’s movements are very tiresome for you, remember that it can potentially save the life of your child and prevent stillbirth.

This season takes good care of yourself and your baby and book an appointment with a top gynecologist in Lahore, Multan and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Madeeha Rashid - Author Dr. Madeeha Rashid is a Gynecologist practicing in Lahore. Dr. Madeeha Rashid has the following degrees: MBBS, FCPS (Gynecologist & Obstetrician) and has 19 years of experience. You can book an appointment with Dr. Madeeha Rashid by calling us or using the 'book appointment' button.
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