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Every Kick Counts

By Michele Savin, MSN, NNP-BC

Every Kick Counts

Your pregnant friend tells you she’s doing daily fetal kick counts, and now you’re wondering if you should too. The answer is: Why not?

How often your baby moves is a window into how she is doing and her overall health. Yet every baby is different; if you spend time getting to know your baby and her overall activity level, you’re more likely to know if something changes or seems different.

How to do kick counts

Kick counts should be done every day at a time when your baby is most active. While in utero your baby will have sleep cycles of up to 40 minutes, and she will usually be most active after you eat, when you exercise or move around, and in the late evening.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you should feel at least 10 movements in 2 hours. Of course most babies will have 10 movements in a much shorter time, in fact, in usually about 30 minutes. Once you reach 10 you’re done!

Every movement counts

While this activity is often called kick counting, it actually involves counting any movement your baby makes, such as rolling, kicking, stretching or the like. Hiccoughs do not count, though. You may have heard that babies move less the closer they are to term but this isn’t true. What you feel will change as your baby has less space to move, however you should always feel movement.

If you can’t feel your baby move, drink a glass of juice and walk around a little. Then try again. Some moms swear by cold juice or water to make baby move around. Never hesitate to call your provider if you haven’t recently felt your baby move. He or she will want to take a closer look at, and listen to, your baby. If your provider has asked you to keep track of kick counts, ask her or him how you should track them, whether to include the time of day, type of movements and how long it takes to achieve 10 moves counted, for example.

Putting aside some quiet time each day getting to know your new baby may seem like a challenge, but it’s time well spent!

Why kick counts

For some women with high-risk pregnancies, a kick count is advised by a healthcare provider to look for early signs of problems, usually starting between weeks 24 and 28. Even if you’re not in a high-risk pregnancy, you can still do kick counts just to check in with your baby. More healthcare providers are advising women to do this.

Doing a kick count is easy, usually takes very little time, and helps you bond with your baby. After a few sessions, you’ll quickly get to know what is normal for your little one and this may enhance your feeling of wellbeing as well.

Michele Savin MSN, NNP-BC, is a neonatal nurse practitioner at Christiana Care Health Services in Wilmington, Delaware. She is also an expert advisor to Health4Mom.org and Healthy Mom&Baby magazine.


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