How to perform fetal kick counts

Fetal movement counting, often called kick counting, is a way a mother can help monitor the movements of her unborn baby by counting the number of kicks in a certain time period.

By 20 weeks gestation, most women are able to feel their baby’s movements. But, movements vary in frequency, strength, and patterns depending on the maturity of the fetus. Generally, most fetuses have circadian (biologically timed) activity rhythms and tend to be more active in the evening hours, beginning as early as the second trimester. Hiccups are quite common, and a fetus may be more active about an hour after the mother eats due to the increase in blood glucose (sugar) in the mother’s blood.

Fetal movement is one indicator of fetal health. Contrary to a common myth, it is not normal for a fetus to stop moving with the onset of labor. Each woman should find the usual pattern and number of movements for her individual pregnancy. As fetuses have sleep cycles, fetal kick counts may be done at any time of day. A change in the normal pattern or number of fetal movements may indicate the fetus is under stress.

How is fetal movement counting done?

Consult your doctor about the importance of fetal movement counting for your individual pregnancy.

Set aside the same time each day to do the counting. After a meal is often a good time.

There are several accepted ways to do kick counts and several different cutoffs as to how many kicks are normal in a certain time frame. Write down the number of times you feel the baby kick or move in one hour. After several days, you may find the baby usually moves about the same number of times per hour–this becomes your baseline number.

If your baby is not moving as much as usual, or takes longer to move in the usual length of time, or has stopped moving, call your doctor right away. Other testing can be done to check the condition of the baby.

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mamanatural.comHow the Fetal Kick Count Is Done. Take a piece of paper and write down the time you start paying attention, put a check mark on the paper every time you feel movement (kick, twist, punch, turn). Do not count hiccups. When you have felt ten movements, write that time down as well. It should take between 30 minutes and two hours.

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What to do if you have kick counts?

Try to stay calm about kick counts, though, as it’s easy to be consumed by the number of punches and flutters. If doing kick counts is making you overly anxious, talk to your doctor about it, and about what makes sense for you.

What is a daily kick count session?

Daily kick count sessions are easy to do: pick a time when you can relax and be quiet without distractions. Preferably, it’s also a time of day when you’ve noticed the baby tends to be a little more active. (By now you will have learned when it’s more likely to be play time in there.)

When do kick counts start?

“We start asking moms to do kick counts around 28 weeks,” says Katrina Sawatsky, a physician at the Northeast Calgary Women’s Clinic. “By 28 weeks, moms can differentiate kicks from [their own] gas or indigestion, and the baby is big enough that you will feel movement more often.

How many kicks do you have in a day?

You will want to feel at least 10 kicks or movements in two hours. More active babies may even kick or move 10 times in less time than two hours. The test is over when you have felt 10 kicks. Do your kick counts every day to get to know your baby’s usual kick patterns.

How do you do a kick count?

There are many different ways to do a kick count. Here is one method to do the Kick Count (Download the graph HERE): Count fetal movements once a day, preferably at the same time every day and within 1 to 2 hours after a meal. Early evening after dinner is a good time because the fetus is usually more active then.

What is a fetal kick count?

Counting Fetal Movements – The Fetal Kick Count. A fetal kick count, counting the fetal movements, is among the most important observation to ensure the baby’s health. Every pregnant woman should learn how to count her fetus’ movements. The fetal kick count is done usually after 24 weeks of the pregnancy to monitor the fetal health.

What is a kick count in pregnancy?

Kick counts. In the last trimester of your pregnancy, your doctor may ask you to keep track of the baby’s movement every day. This is often called a “kick count.” Counting your baby’s kicks can help you learn your baby’s movement patterns and recognize if there is a change. A change could be a sign of a problem.

When should I schedule my baby kick count?

Try to schedule the kick count during your baby’s most active time of day, but also a time when you will be able to record movements over three or four hours, if needed. You will need to record movements starting from about the same time each day.

(click on your language to download a PDF about Count the Kicks)

What is Count the Kicks ?

Count the Kicks is a stillbirth prevention public health campaign that encourages expectant parents to track their baby’s movements daily during the third trimester of pregnancy and contact their healthcare provider right away if there is a change in what’s normal for their baby.

Why is it important to count baby kicks?

Counting your baby’s kicks (and jabs, pokes and rolls!) is important because a change in movement in the third trimester is often the earliest sign of distress in a baby. When moms know what is normal for their baby, then they are more alert to potential red flags. We frequently hear from moms whose babies were saved because they noticed a change in their baby’s movement pattern and alerted their healthcare provider.

Is stillbirth really still a concern in the U.S?

Unfortunately, yes. Across the U.S., approximately 24,000 babies are lost to stillbirth every year. Statistically, that means 1 out of every 169 pregnancies ends in stillbirth. For African American moms, that number is even more alarming – 1 in 96! Count the Kicks is committed to preventing stillbirth and eliminating disparities. In Iowa, where the campaign started, the stillbirth rate has dropped nearly 32 percent in 10 years! If this success is replicated in all 50 states, more than 7,500 babies will be saved every year!

How do I count my baby’s kicks?

  • Download the free app or use a paper kick counting chart (available in English or Spanish).
  • Starting at 28 weeks count your baby’s movements every day, preferably at the same time.
  • Pick your time based on when your baby is usually active.
  • To get started, sit with your feet up or lie on your side. Count each of your baby’s movements (kicks, rolls, pokes or jabs – but not hiccups, as those are involuntary) as one kick and tap the foot on our app until you reach ten movements. The app is timing how long it takes your baby to get to ten movements.
  • Most of the time it will take less than a half hour, but each baby is unique.
  • Save your kick counting sessions in the app to see your baby’s movement history. After a few days you will begin to see what’s normal for your baby (how long it takes your baby to get to ten movements).
  • Knowing what is a normal movement pattern for your baby is key. If “normal” changes, call your provider – this could be a sign of potential problems.
  • Your kick counting history can be useful for visits with your provider.
  • The app will record the amount of time it took to get 10 movements, or you can log your times into a Count the Kicks chart.
  • Keep counting every day!

What are the other benefits of Count The Kicks ?

Counting baby kicks helps you to bond with your baby. Taking time to Count the Kicks provides a special time for you to focus on your baby’s movements and personality. It is also a good time for your partner and older children to share in this experience with you and bond with the baby.

My baby is always active. Why should I take time to Count the Kicks ?

Active babies can also experience distress, sometimes quickly and without other warning signs. Tracking your baby’s movement every day takes the guesswork out of knowing if your normally active baby has slowed down. You have real data to show your healthcare provider if you have a concern.

Why do I need to Count the Kicks ? I’m past the first trimester, I should be out the danger zone.

According to the CDC, one out of every 169 pregnancies ends in stillbirth, and one in 96 expectant African American women will lose her baby to stillbirth. Of mothers who have lost a baby to stillbirth in the third trimester, 50% reported perceived gradual decline in fetal movement several days prior to the death of their baby. This indicates that many cases of stillbirth are not sudden. There may be time to save your baby if you are aware of the warning signs.

Why do I need to Count the Kicks when I can hear his or her heartbeat with a Doppler device?

A change of the baby’s heartbeat is one of the last things to occur when a baby is in distress, whereas decreased movement is an early sign. Daily monitoring allows you to detect a change in your baby’s movements. A significant change in your baby’s movement may indicate potential problems before actual changes in the heart rate are detected. By the time the heart slows, it may be too late. The time between decreased movement and decreased heart rate may be the only time you have to save your baby.

At what point in my pregnancy do I start Count the Kicks ?

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends you begin counting kicks in your 28th week, or at 26 weeks if you are high risk or pregnant with multiples.

What is considered normal?

Every baby is different. Keeping track of your daily kick counting sessions will help you know what is “normal” for your baby. Notify your healthcare provider immediately if there have been significant changes in your baby’s movement pattern.

How do I use the Count the Kicks app?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Call your provider if your baby has a change in movement patterns (it starts to take longer to get to ten kicks).

Do not wait if there are significant changes in your baby’s movements, or no movement at all.

When in doubt, contact your provider.

Do not worry about “bothering” them. It is their job to take care of you and your baby.

Do babies kick less near the end of pregnancy?

NO! Toward the end of pregnancy your baby may move differently. You may feel less sharp kicking and more rolling. However, if you are monitoring the baby’s movements at the same time each day, it should take about the same amount of time to feel 10 movements. Call your healthcare provider right away if you notice a significant change in your baby’s movement patterns.

What should I do if I cannot feel my baby move?

Call your healthcare provider right away! Trust your intuition. Trust the data. Don’t wait.

How to perform fetal kick counts

How to perform fetal kick counts

Keeping count of your baby’s movements is an important way for you as an expectant mother to help assess your little one’s well-being, especially in the third trimester.

Feeling your baby kick is not only a wonderful pregnancy perk, but also can be a valuable source of information about your baby’s overall state; in general, an active baby is a healthy one. This simple, noninvasive test can help you feel reassured every day that baby is doing well and can also be an early clue of something that may need your healthcare provider’s attention.

What is a Kick Count?

A kick count is the measurement of how long it takes to feel 10 fetal movements while the mother is at rest and focused on counting. Usually you will feel this amount of activity within 15 minutes. However, if 10 kicks are not present in one hour, there may be a cause for concern. A decrease in fetal movement could indicate a problem, such compromised blood flow or low oxygen levels that requires prompt medical attention.

Changes During the Third Trimester

How to perform fetal kick counts

Babies move frequently in the womb beginning at about eight weeks gestation. Mothers typically do not feel these movements until about 20 weeks, though some women may experience those first flutters a little earlier or later. Even though you may feel your baby kicking during the second trimester, these movements are considered to be too random to be a reliable gauge of baby’s health. By the time the last trimester has begun at week 28, uterine space is running out and baby has grown strong enough for the mother to feel all but the tiniest fetal activity. Your baby moves around to help themselves relax or get comfortable, to stretch out their limbs and in response to things like light, sound and even being poked or pushed from outside the womb. According to WebMD, the average baby has about 30 movements per hour during the third trimester. By this time, baby has also established a more stable sleep/wake pattern.

How to Perform an Accurate Kick Count

Since healthcare practitioners vary in their protocols for kick counts to be done one, two or three times daily, follow your provider’s instructions. Choose a time when you have noticed baby being active in the past. Babies tend to be quietest in the afternoons, so mornings and evenings are usually the best times to count. Sit or lie down where you can easily see a clock and note the time when you begin. Even though it is called a “kick” count, all swishes, rolls and pokes should be counted. You should be alert for 10 distinct movements and any type of stirring meets the requirement. The exception to this rule is fetal hiccups; since they are an involuntary reflex, hiccups do not accurately reflect your baby’s condition. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it can be helpful to use a notebook to record both the times you start the count and when the baby has reached 10 kicks. This record can help you learn your baby’s patterns and also help you detect a significant change in activity, if one should occur.

When to Call the Doctor

If you have been actively counting for an hour and not felt 10 kicks, lie down if you are not already doing so. Have a sweet drink or a snack, as sugar will usually stimulate a baby to move. If another hour passes and you still have not felt 10 kicks, or if you note a sudden decrease in fetal activity, a call to your healthcare provider is in order. Your practitioner may tell you to try counting for another hour or they may want you to be seen in the office. Whatever your provider’s instructions, be sure to follow them exactly, and never be afraid to call your provider with any questions.

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Feeling your baby move can be one of the most exciting parts of a pregnancy. Its nice to have some confirmation that there is actually a tiny human in there!

But did you know that counting your baby’s kicks can help make sure they are healthy and possibly even prevent a tragedy?

There is strong evidence that counting fetal movements can reduce perinatal mortality in pregnancy.

Doing kick counts actually saved our baby girl’s life. If I hadn’t done them I wouldn’t have suspected that there was something terribly wrong and I wouldn’t have gone into the hospital.

When do moms start feeling fetal movements?

According to the American Pregnancy Organization you should start to feel some fetal movement between 18-25 weeks into pregnancy. For first-time moms, it may occur closer to 25 weeks, and for second or third-time moms, it may occur closer to 18 weeks or even a little earlier.

Why are fetal kick counts important?

How to perform fetal kick counts

Our daughter was not moving as much while doing fetal kick counts during my first pregnancy. Intervention at that time was life saving.

Doctors only see moms every two to four weeks. According to Dr. Diep Nguyen, a Los Angeles OB/GYN “fetal movement is the best indicator of pregnancy health and is the best yardstick in between those times. If the baby is not growing well, it probably will slow down its activity way before it will stop moving all together.”

My own OB/GYN has expressed the same information to me. Especially ever since my placental abruption during my first pregnancy at 33 weeks.

Now that I am due in January with our baby boy, there is a part of me that is afraid that some sort of catastrophe could happen again. But I am doing daily kick counts and I am reassured that our baby boy is kicking quite frequently. If for some reason he slows down or stops I know to go right to the hospital to have things checked out.

When will I feel the most movement?

Moms generally find that the baby is most active between the hours of 9pm and 1am due to declining blood sugar levels. You my also feel more fetal movement after meals or eating sugary foods.

I have always felt that it is easier to feel the baby move when I lay down and pay closer attention. It is also a nice time for baby bonding and just getting some well-deserved mommy rest. When I am busy and moving around a lot it is harder to pay attention to what is going on inside my uterus.

How should kick counts been done?

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you time how long it takes you to feel 10 kicks, flutters, swishes, or rolls. Ideally, you want to feel at least 10 movements within 2 hours. You will likely feel 10 movements in less time than that.

How to do kick counts:

1. Lay on your left side.

2. Count how many minutes it takes for you to feel 10 fetal movements (once you get to ten you can stop counting).

3. Do this once a day around the same time. I do it right before bedtime when my daughter is already asleep so I am not interrupted.

Charting fetal kick counts

How to perform fetal kick counts

There are dozens of kick count apps to choose from, but this is the one I use.

You can use a calendar chart to document how many minutes it takes for you to feel 10 fetal movements. If your baby does not move at least 10 times in 2 hours or there is a sudden decrease in movement, you should contact your doctor right away.

There are dozens of fetal kick count apps available to make this even easier.

Having an app makes it so much easier. You can just set the time that you want to start doing kick counts and then tap on the phone each time you feel a kick. When you get to 10 kicks, the app tells you that you are done and records the total amount of time it took. The app also records the history of all your kick counting sessions so it is easy to review and see if there have been any decreases in activity.

Kick counting is an easy way to monitor baby’s well being in the womb.

Timely intervention after a mother complained of decreased fetal movements and the baby was found to be compromised on further evaluation has helped save many babies. I know from first hand experience that doing fetal kick counts can help divert a catastrophic event. It is always better to be safe then sorry!

Will need to start counting baby kick soon. OB told me if the baby is very active, there's not need for a kick count. But once it starts to slow down I'll need do start counting.

My baby is very active. But I'm trying to decide how do I know what counting as kick? Does roll or small movement counts as kick or does it actually has to be kick to count as kick?

When you do kick counts, does it matter what time of day I do? Or should I try to count kick same time everyday?

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How to perform fetal kick counts

Count the Kicks is an evidence-based stillbirth prevention and awareness program that teaches expectant parents the method for, and importance of, tracking fetal movement daily during the third trimester of pregnancy.

The Florida Department of Health is excited to share with expectant parents and providers this evidence-based program designed to prevent stillbirths.

  • Parent Resources
  • Provider Resources
  • Video Archive

How to perform fetal kick counts

Why Count?

Counting kicks, jabs, pokes and rolls is a free, noninvasive way to check on your baby’s well-being. It’s also a great way to bond with your baby during pregnancy. A change in movement, whether a decrease or rapid increase, is sometimes the earliest or only indication that your baby should be checked by your health care provider. It’s also important to pay attention to the strength of your baby’s movements and notify your provider if your baby’s movements become weaker.

Counting your baby’s movements every day in the third trimester is easy to do. Just follow these simple steps:

How to perform fetal kick counts

(Scroll Over to Expand)

Helpful Tips When Counting Kicks
  • Pick a time when your baby is usually active. Research shows that babies are often the most active at night.
  • To get started, sit with your feet up or lie on your side. Count each of your baby’s movements (kicks, jabs, pokes and rolls) as one kick and tap the foot on the app until you reach 10 movements.
  • Every pregnancy and every baby are different. For example, Sarah may be able to record 10 movements for her baby in 10 minutes, but Megan’s baby may take 30 minutes to record 10 movements. If Sarah finds that it is taking her baby an hour to record 10 movements, she knows that is a change in her baby’s normal movement pattern, so she should contact her health care provider right away. The most important thing is to count your baby’s kicks every day so you will know what is normal for YOUR baby.
  • Babies don’t run out of room or slow down at the end of pregnancy. Babies should move up to and even during labor.
Watch: How to Count Kicks
Download the Free App 

Every kick counts, especially with the FREE Count the Kicks app!

Count the Kicks  is a safe and simple way to help monitor the well-being of your baby. Use this app every day during your third trimester of pregnancy to track your baby’s movement patterns.

The app is available in 12 languages: Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Haitian-Creole, Hindi, Marshallese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili and Vietnamese.

Be sure to alert your provider immediately if you notice a change in the strength of your baby’s movements or how long it takes your baby to get to 10 movements. Don’t wait!

Disclaimer: The following is not medical advice and is for informational purposes only. Always consult with your own pregnancy care provider about your own prenatal care.

Baby Kick Counts: Are They Playing Soccer in There?

One of the most exciting milestones of pregnancy is feeling your baby move for the first time. This usually happens somewhere between 18 and 20 weeks gestation, according to the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

As your pregnancy progresses, your doctor might suggest you start kick counts. This practice of tracking your baby’s movement is meant to create awareness of the baby’s active and quiet times while allowing you to watch for changes in their activity levels.

All expecting parents in their third trimester can benefit from paying attention to their baby’s kicks and wiggles. (Intentionally counting kicks isn’t recommended before 28 weeks of gestation, since movements can vary quite a bit before you reach your third trimester). This guide will explain how to count kicks, including when to do it and how often. We’ll also dive into the benefits of the practice and when it might indicate it is time to call your doctor.

How to Count Fetal Kicks

There are different suggestions on how often pregnant people should do baby kick counts. For example, Michigan Medicine suggests performing kick counts daily during pregnancy at the same time each day while the World Health Organization doesn’t feel it is necessary to follow a daily routine unless you’ve been specifically directed by your doctor to do so.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology advocates talking with your provider first to find a frequency for tracking kick counts that works well for you. Making time for this habit daily might work well for busy parents with young kids or demanding jobs who struggle to remain mindful of fetal movements. This might also be something your doctor recommends if you’re considered high risk.

If you’re not sure where to start with kick counting, here are some suggestions:

The Count to Ten Method

Some doctors encourage the use of the “count to ten” method. The expectant parent is instructed to count fetal kicks at the same time each day, looking for ten movements within 2 to 3 hours. Then, if the baby doesn’t move at least ten times in that timeframe, they’re told to reach out to their provider.

Learn Your Baby’s Patterns

The important part of kick counts is becoming more aware of when your baby is usually more and less active. Each baby has their own patterns, according to BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. Knowing these patterns is the first step toward being aware when something changes.

Whether or not you’re doing scheduled kick counts, it is a good idea to take note of when your baby is usually active and when they seem to be asleep. This is important since research has associated expecting mother’s perception of decreased movement with an increased chance of stillbirth and other adverse outcomes.

Get Baby Moving

Although not an official kick count method, one easy way to make sure your baby is moving is, if you haven’t noticed movement in a while (easy to do when you’re a busy mom-to-be!), simply take a moment to be still or quiet and observe. If your baby still isn’t moving, try switching positioning, or eating a snack to see if that gets them moving.

Benefits of Fetal Kick Counts

Kick counts can help predict fetal health, according to the Journal of Caring Science. Pair this habit with regular prenatal care to take an active role in monitoring your baby’s wellbeing.

Baby kick counts aren’t guaranteed to prevent negative pregnancy outcomes, but they can increase awareness of changes, which may allow for successful intervention if something does change. The practice also supports bonding with your baby and may help decrease mom’s anxiety.

Bonding with Your Baby

Kick counts are a great way to slow down, rest, and connect with your baby. As a mom with younger kids, my days can easily be non-stop. During my last pregnancy, taking a few minutes with my baby to count kicks was the excuse I needed to rest a little each day.

And now that I’m expecting my fourth, I’m looking forward to this ritual as a way to connect with this baby and prepare myself emotionally for adding one more child to our family.

Providing the Reassurance You Need

If you find yourself worried about your baby from time to time, what you’re experiencing is normal! Tracking fetal movements is a good way to reassure yourself when you’re afraid something could go wrong.

This practice has actually been associated with fewer unnecessary visits to the doctor because it provides reassurance to expecting moms Sometimes all you need to lower stress during pregnancy is a few minutes to notice your baby is active and giving good, strong kicks. When in doubt, however, always call your provider—and never worry about bothering them, because your baby’s safety is always a priority.