Partner Spotlight

Count the Kicks

Count the Kicks is an evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign created in 2008 by the Iowa nonprofit organization Healthy Birth Day, Inc. The campaign was created by five women in central Iowa who all experienced stillbirth or infant loss in the early 2000s.

Download the app or visit their homepage to learn more.

Spotlight Interview | August 2021

Interview with Megan Aucutt, CTK Program Director, and Amanda Duffy, CTK MN Ambassador

Interviewed by MNPQC Interns: Kavya Karthic and YooLee Yi

How and why was Count the Kicks founded?

Count the Kicks is an evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign created in 2008 by the Iowa nonprofit organization Healthy Birth Day, Inc. The campaign was created by five women in central Iowa who all experienced stillbirth or infant loss in the early 2000s. The women became aware of a public health study in Norway that demonstrated a nearly 30% decrease in the number of stillbirths among the cohort of women educated on the importance of tracking fetal movement during the 3rd trimester. The founders decided if they could save just one baby with this sort of public health campaign in Iowa they would be successful, so they created the Count the Kicks campaign to raise awareness about the importance of tracking fetal movements as a tool that can help prevent preventable stillbirths.

What is the importance of monitoring fetal movement?

Research shows a change in fetal movement is one of the earliest or only signs that a baby may be in distress, and is an indication that the baby should be checked by a provider. When babies are not doing well they do not move as much, and the strength of movement can become weaker. That is why it is important for expectant parents to monitor their baby’s movements daily in the third trimester and speak up if they notice a change in their baby’s movement or strength. Mothers need to understand what amount of movement is normal for their baby, which is why we created the tools and resources to help expectant parents do just that. Our hallmark tool, the FREE Count the Kicks app, helps expectant parents track their baby’s movement and begin to see what’s normal for their baby.

How does the Count the Kicks app help mothers, and why was the app created?

The app helps expectant parents to get to know their baby’s normal movement pattern by tracking how long it takes their baby to reach 10 movements each day. The app’s features include a kick counting timer, strength function, and include reminders so parents never forget to count kicks. The app was created to be a simple, free, and convenient way for expectant parents to count their baby’s kicks daily starting at 28 weeks. If their baby’s normal ever changes, by using the app daily they will have data to help legitimize their concerns and evidence to show to their doctors so that doctors may determine the best next steps. The app is free and is available in 12 languages. App users can download their data and send it to healthcare providers.

What the main initiatives/goals are of Count the Kicks?

Count the Kicks is on a mission to make kick counting a common practice for all expectant parents in the third trimester of pregnancy. Our campaign uses a variety of different methods to raise awareness about the importance of tracking fetal movement in the third trimester, including our bright yellow educational materials, which are free in 13 states and available for a low cost to providers in other states. The Count the Kicks campaign gives healthcare providers the tools and resources they need to talk to expectant parents about kick counting in the third trimester of pregnancy, including videos, materials, and CE training. We also have a telehealth resource and childbirth education lesson plan available. Many healthcare providers abide by the 10 in 2 rule, which is an outdated standard for tracking fetal movements that set 10 kicks in 2 hours as the standard for healthy fetal movement. The latest research indicates that because every baby is different, expectant parents should be taught to understand and track their baby’s movement pattern so they can determine what’s normal for their baby. That way, if their baby’s strength or movement significantly changes they can speak up to their provider about it. Count the Kicks also work with providers to educate and inform on best practices as it relates to stillbirth prevention protocols.

What is the Baby Saves Database, and how does it further the initiatives of Count the Kicks?

The Baby Saves database is where we share stories of expectant parents who used our app and resources, noticed reduced fetal movement in their baby, and then spoke up to their provider about it, potentially saving their baby’s life. This is a hub of feel-good stories that show the real-life impact of the Count the Kicks campaign. We currently have more than 75 baby save stories from families in 24 states and three countries who have reached out to share how Count the Kicks helped their baby have a healthy birth day. We encourage people to share their own stories, either through the app or through contacting us directly at info@countthekicks.org.

How has COVID-19 impacted the work of/the initiatives of Count the Kicks? (work remotely, online meetings, etc.)

We know how hard the COVID-19 Pandemic has been on everyone and we have heard from app users and expectant parents that there have been changes to their prenatal appointment schedules and that some appointments have been moved to telehealth. We held several community conversations through Zoom to learn more about how the Pandemic was affecting the lives of expectant women, and also sent out a survey to our app users to learn more about their experience. Taking what we learned we created additional pieces to help individuals navigate this telehealth world, including advice on how to speak up during COVID and how to implement our campaign during COVID. We also created the Count the Kicks Academy for providers and parents. The Academy pages on our website are a suite of digital tools, resources, and videos to help providers and parents learn more about the importance of counting kicks in the third trimester. We also have our free-kick counting app, making it easier than ever for expectant parents to track their baby’s movement pattern and download the results to send or show to their provider.

How can MNPQC/MPO help to further the initiatives of Count the Kicks?

Minnesota loses around 378 babies to stillbirth every year. Providers and organizations like MNPQC can order the Count the Kicks materials to educate mothers and healthcare providers and help raise awareness about the impact and prevalence of stillbirth in the state of Minnesota. By spreading information and education, the medical community will hopefully be able to view stillbirth as preventable and Count the Kicks gives them a positive and empowering way to talk with expectant parents about the importance of fetal movement. Through education and awareness with partnerships like MNPQC, Count the Kicks hopes that healthcare providers will become proactive in preventing stillbirths.

Is there a personal connection that has fueled your personal drive for Count the Kick’s initiatives?

As an expectant mother, Amanda was never truly educated on the importance of tracking fetal movements. She noticed changes in her daughter Reese’s movements, but because she was never educated on the importance of these movements, she never understood the significance of this change in her daughter’s behavior until later. Women who are pregnant tend to second guess themselves in order to not seem overbearing, and this can be dangerous for both the mother and child. Through her own experience, Amanda wants women to feel empowered to advocate for themselves and their unborn child just as they will do after their child’s birth.

What is the best way for individuals to get involved with Count the Kicks’ initiatives and goals?

Anyone can visit the volunteer section on our website to see if there are any opportunities to help out! Just go to www.CountTheKicks.org to sign up. Additionally, people can subscribe to our newsletter, and make sure Count the Kicks is being discussed with any expectant parents. Following Count the Kicks on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube) to keep up to date on the information will also help people become more aware and get involved with any initiatives or opportunities available!


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