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> Counting Your Baby's Kicks

Babies generally start moving between weeks 16 to 25 of pregnancy, and kicking is one of their favourite activities! Women have described the sensation as being like popcorn popping, a goldfish swimming around, or butterflies fluttering. Inexperienced mothers may not be able to distinguish her baby’s kick from an ordinary belly rumbling, but regardless of the feeling, counting these kicks could save your baby’s life!


Importance of counting kicks

Paying attention to a fetus's movements in utero has been linked with a decrease in stillbirth, which occurs every 22 minutes in the United States. It is recommended to count the kicks from the start of your third trimester (28th week mark, or at 26th week if your pregnancy is high risk, or you’re pregnant with multiples).

At first, the kicks are few and far between, but will get stronger and more regular as you are nearing the end of your second trimester. As every baby has his or her own pattern of activity, there is nothing to worry about if your experience is different from that of your friends. As long as there is no decrease in your baby’s usual activity level, your baby is doing fine.


Counting kicks

When you start your 3rd trimester, it's time to start counting.

  • Count the kicks every day, preferably at the same time.

  • Pick your time based on when your baby is usually active, such as after a snack or meal.

  • Make sure your baby is awake first; walking, pushing on your tummy or having a cold drink are good wake-up calls.

  • To get started, sit with your feet up or lie on your side. Count each of your baby’s movements as one kick, and count until you reach 10 kicks.

  • Most of the time it will take less than a half-hour, but it could take as long as two hours. (Very rarely does a baby kick fewer than 10 times during a two-hour period, as most babies don’t sleep longer than an hour at a time near the end of pregnancy.)

  • Log your recorded times

When comparing the kicks with the previous weeks, there will be a bit of variance from day to day, but for the most part, the numbers should be relatively similar.

Later into the pregnancy, the sensations won't be as sharp and noticeable since your baby has less room to move around.


What to do if you are worried

Call your doctor or midwife if it takes longer than two hours to count 10 kicks. A non-stress test should be performed to check the baby's heart rate.

An ultrasound could offer further explanation, but you may have to be proactive in asking for one. If the non-stress test is normal, continue charting the kicks daily.

Also be aware that if the idea of charting kicks makes you anxious, studies have shown that simply paying attention to your baby's movement in utero and reporting potential problems to your doctor or midwife can also reduce the possibility of stillbirth.

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