AUGUSTA – A public health campaign to track a baby’s movements during pregancy called Count the Kicks helps Georgia mom save baby.
Vanessa Oden never expected that downloading a free app called Count the Kicks to track her baby’s movements during pregnancy would help save her son’s life. During pregnancy, Vanessa learned about the importance of kick counting from her doula, who suggested she use the Count the Kicks app to monitor her baby’s well-being. The CDC lists a change in baby’s movements as one of its 15 urgent maternal warning signs.
“I took her advice and downloaded and used the app regularly. My pregnancy with Kai-Dalton was considered high risk, which meant that I was receiving extra care. I was going weekly for NST [non-stress test] and BBP [biophysical profile] testing to monitor the pregnancy,” said Oden.
Count the Kicks is an evidence-based public health campaign that teaches expectant parents the method for and importance of tracking their baby’s movements daily in the third trimester of pregnancy. The Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia Strong Families brought the program to the state in 2021. Research proves the importance of tracking fetal movement, and Count the Kicks encouragesexpectant parents to get to know the normal movement pattern for their baby by having daily kick counting sessions using the free Count the Kicks app. When the amount of time it takes to get to 10 movements changes, this could be a sign of potential problems and is an indication to call their provider.
Thanks to the app and monitoring Kai-Dalton’s movements daily, Vanessa noticed when her baby wasn’t moving like normal. “At 37 weeks I went to my scheduled appointment and despite my and the nurses’ efforts to get him to move, he failed his NST [non-stress test] due to a non-reactive heart rate. I indicated I was concerned because despite my efforts to get him to move, he was not,” she said.
Vanessa received additional monitoring and tests at the hospital and advocated to stay for additional monitoring when tests showed her baby was not moving like he normally did. Vanessa and her care team made the decision to proceed with an induction.
“Thankfully, I delivered my son healthy, but the cord around his neck and arm was certainly restricting his movement,” she said. “Kai-Dalton was telling me something was wrong, and I am glad I had the knowledge about his movement, so I felt empowered to speak up.”
Data in the Count the Kicks app acts as an early warning system for expectant parents so they can let their providers know when something feels off. Kick counting data within the app can even be emailed or texted directly to providers — a helpful way to determine the next best steps for mom and baby.
Thanks to a partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health, nurses, doctors and hospital staff are able to order free Count the Kicks brochures, app download reminder cards, and posters to place in offices that care for pregnant patients and to share with expectant parents.
“Count the Kicks is a powerful tool in helping expectant parents evaluate and track their baby’s movements,” said Kiara Loud, Early Intervention Coordinator, District Child Health Coordinator with the West Central Health District. “We are committed to improving birth outcomes and reducing stillbirths in Georgia. Partnering with Count the Kicks to provide these free evidence-based tools and resources to Georgians was a simple decision. We are happy to know these resources were able to save a life and hope they will save many more in our great state.”
Every year in the U.S. 23,500 babies are stillborn, according to the CDC, and an average of 1,041 babies are stillborn each year in Georgia. For expectant Georgians, 1 in every 125 pregnancies will end in stillbirth. Recent research has identified significant increases in stillbirth and maternal death since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In Iowa, where Count the Kicks began, the state’s stillbirth rate dropped by nearly 32 percent in the first 10 years of the campaign (2008-2018). Iowa went from the 33rd worst stillbirth rate in the country to third lowest, while the country’s rate as a whole remained relatively stagnant.