Kicks Count Guest Blog
Kicks Count for PacaPod
Kicks Count is the UK’s leading baby movement awareness campaign - spreading the word about baby’s movements during pregnancy to save babies’ lives. We’ve been asked by our friends at PacaPod to answer some of your most frequently asked questions.
How common is stillbirth?
2,943 babies were stillborn in 2018, that’s around 8 babies every day. Croatia, Poland and Czech Republic all have better stillbirth rates than the UK. While it can’t really be described as common, it’s certainly not rare either.
In 2010, the year Kicks Count was founded, 4,110 babies were stillborn. Incredible progress has been made since then. However, an increase in the number of babies being stillborn is anticipated because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The virus itself isn’t a known threat to women and their babies, but women are more reluctant than ever to go to hospital, and that is. Maternity Unit’s across the UK are noticing a fall in the number of women calling with concerns. While addressing the nation during the daily BBC news conference, the National Medical Director for NHS England publicly urged women to seek help if their baby’s movements reduce. The need for more urgent awareness has prompted our #KicksStillCount campaign, which has been supported by maternity professionals across the UK and celebrities such as Holly Willoughby and Kimberley Walsh.
Why is baby movement so important in pregnancy?
It’s an important sign that a baby is well. Around 50% of mothers who had a stillbirth noticed their baby slowed their movements beforehand. If a baby is getting less nutrients or oxygen, they often move less to conserve energy. Babies are found to be completely fine most of the time, but it’s vital that mums recognise and report the potential warning sign so distress can be ruled out.
What is the best way for mums to monitor their baby’s movements?
The most important part is getting to know their baby’s individual pattern. Most mums find a pattern starts developing somewhere between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, it’s different for everyone.
It’s key to remember that there’s no set amount of movement that all mums should feel, all babies are unique. Points of reference are helpful too - does your baby move more in the morning? Do they have a party as you get comfortable in bed? Do they get excited when you eat? Make a mental note, it helps you get to know your baby.
We have an award-winning wristband that mums can use to track movement episodes, plus a free to download app too.
What advice would you give if someone believes they are experiencing reduced baby movement?
Our main message is never to delay calling the Maternity Unit. While times are so frightening and confusing that’s even more important. It’s tempting to “see how things go” but, in some cases, that delay is time that can’t be wasted. Hospitals are following strict COVID-19 measures to protect mums, babies and staff – they’re a safe place to be.
Mums should feel confident they’re doing the right thing too, and we’re incredibly passionate about that. Maternity Units are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and they’re there to help women who need it. It’s their job!
When my daughter was moving less, I remember how hard it was to make that call. I was so worried about being a nuisance. I spent a few minutes doubting myself and preparing for a midwife to tell me I was being dramatic. Of course, that wasn’t the case at all. I did go to hospital and was repeatedly told it was the right thing to do. Looking back, even if someone had been grumpy with me, that shouldn’t have mattered – I was doing the right thing.
Instinct is important too. Sometimes things just don’t feel “right” or normal, and that gut feeling is enough to warrant a phone call. Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Larisa Corda is a Kicks Count Patron, and she’s a huge advocate for this too. Mums often just “know” when something could be wrong. Always act on that feeling.
Is it true that babies move less towards the end of the pregnancy?
Absolutely not - babies don’t move less towards the end of pregnancy. The type of movement can certainly change, more stretching type movements than big thuds, but the regularity should stay the same. It’s a common myth, something that’s been said to pregnant women over many years, so it is pretty engrained in people’s thoughts.
If this blog leaves you with just one takeaway we’d love for it to be this – Kicks Still Count!
We’re always happy to give general movement advice to anyone with questions and there’s lots of information and resources on our website too: www.kickscount.org.uk