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Count the Kicks program aims to reduce stillbirth incidents


The movement of the baby inside the womb is a mix of complete joy and awe for an expectant mother.

And while the undeniable feelings created by those stirrings evoke strong emotions, those movements do much more. They are a powerful tool in monitoring the wellbeing of a baby throughout pregnancy, says Sapphire Garcia, Via Christi site coordinator of Baby Talk.

Garcia will be teaching expectant mothers how to read and gauge the movements of their baby during the Count the Kicks class at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 24 in the McNamara Conference Room at Ascension Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph, 3600 E. Harry.

Count the Kicks is a method for tracking movements and learning how to recognize when there might be fetal distress. The session will offer education for expectant mothers on:

  • what to expect with their baby’s movement
  • how to become familiar with their baby’s activity and determine what is normal for them
  • how to know when it’s time to contact their doctor and seek medical assistance

The event is free and open to all pregnant women. No pre-registration is necessary.

Personal experience

Count the Kicks is much more than teaching a prenatal class for Garcia. Just two-and-a-half years ago, when was expecting her second child, Garcia noticed her baby’s movements had decreased.

“Her movement slowed down, but I didn’t know that could be a bad thing,” she says.  “Everyone I knew suggested that it was normal to feel less movement towards the end of my pregnancy.”

When Garcia awoke one morning about a week before her due date, her baby was no longer moving. She was gone.

Consumed with confusion and anger that she had done “everything right” during her pregnancy and hadn’t made it home with a healthy newborn, Garcia began to pour her angst into finding out what – if anything – she could have done differently.

“I found a large-scale study about kick counting as a means of stillbirth prevention, and another search led me to the Count the Kicks campaign, which was created based off that study,” Garcia says.

The basics

Here are some of the fundamentals of the Count and Kicks method:

Count baby's movements once per day, during a time when your baby is normally active.

  • Count swishes, rolls, jabs or kicks as one movement each. Track how long it takes to reach 10 movements. After a couple weeks, you'll start to learn your baby's patterns, and you'll know what is "normal" for him or her. Most babies reach 10 kicks within the first 30 minutes, but it could take as long as two hours to reach 10 kicks. Every baby and mom are different, so it's important to do a kick count each day to learn what is normal for your baby. 
  • Each day, your "kick count time" (the time it takes to feel 10 movements) should be about the same. 
  • If your kick count time changes significantly, or if you are concerned about your baby's movements, call your doctor right away!
  • A free phone and web application designed to help moms track their daily kick counts is available at

About the program

The Count the Kicks campaign started in Iowa, and was the brainchild of five mothers who had lost their children to stillbirth. Garcia reached out to the group, asking to be involved.  

“By some act of providence, it just so happened that they were taking their campaign national — it had been active in Iowa since 2009 -- in just a few months with the help of volunteer campaign ambassadors,” Garcia says. “They had invited six other women — moms who had also lost babies to stillbirth — to Iowa.”

‘Much better ending’

Sharing the information has not only helped inform other women, but Garcia saw first-hand the difference a mother can make by monitoring her baby’s movements every day.

“I was religious about counting kicks during my last pregnancy,” Garcia says. "One morning, my baby was moving less. I went to the doctor right away to have him checked."

Her quick action helped to reveal that the baby was in distress. He was safely delivered later that day. 

“He made it because of kick counts,” Garcia says. “It’s a way for you to be alert for changes with your baby. You are able advocate for yourself and your baby if you feel like something’s wrong.”

Her son is now 1 1/2, and Garcia feels blessed to have the knowledge and opportunity to teach women how to recognize problems.

“I had a much better ending,” she says. “It feels so rewarding to be able to help other moms get that ending, too.”

Baby Talk is a community collaborative prenatal care education program. To sign up for Baby Talk classes – which include six sessions, please call 293.3411 or email Baby Talk will be held immediately following the Count the Kicks lesson from 7 to 9 p.m. March 24 in the McNamara Conference Room. Baby Talk covers a large variety of topics related to pregnancy and infant care. Count the Kicks is taught as part of the Baby Talk curriculum.

About Anne Maxwell